Out of the many sectors that comprise the superyacht industry, it is arguable that design is the one that has the potential for the most innovation and evolution. Part of this evolution takes place — or should take place — with new, young designers entering the industry for the first time. However, as with other sectors of the superyacht industry, design studios are somewhat guilty of not embracing, nor preparing, this new generation of yacht designers.
“Assuming [young designers] have already graduated with a degree in design, the industry takes the relay baton at a critical juncture in the junior designer’s growth,” explains Adriel Rollins, managing director of Adriel Design. “Very few design education programmes emphasise marine or yacht design; even fewer for superyachts. Therefore, a great deal of superyacht design education takes place in the first few years of professional experience after graduation. [But] junior designers often work for many years before visiting their first shipyard. This is tragic. Young designers benefit from first-hand exposure to hands-on craftsmanship, if only to remind them that their designs are not the end of the process, but just the beginning.”
Rollins goes on to add that the superyacht design industry should play a much larger role when it comes to interacting with design programmes — a partnership that should be an ongoing exploration of how design studios and schools can move forward together. “To welcome new designers to the yacht industry, we must confront a misunderstanding about design education that has been common for many years, particularly among members of the yachting industry. It is the belief that education must follow behind design practice, rather than work as an equal partner. Yacht design firms should interact with design education programmes. Instead of simply showing their work or marketing material, they should sit down with educators for a discussion about the problems with the practice.”
Rob Doyle, principle designer at Rob Doyle Designs, believes a plethora of initiatives are available to encourage and embrace the future of yacht design within the next generation of designers, including internships, trainee systems for graduates, the encouragement of practical sailing experience and, importantly, young designer awards. “Create a project outline spec and see who can create a concept within those set constraints,” suggests Doyle. “As a designer, 90 per cent of the time you are working within set criteria. This will allow the judges to compare like for like and judge the best.”
Andrew Winch Designs is one design studio that encourages the nurturing of the next generation of superyacht designers with their internship programme, which chief operating officer David Goodman says significantly expands the studio’s pool of talent. “What the interns bring is a whole new skill set, whether it’s technological or strategic. They bring new tools for our toolbox that are very complementary to those we’ve already got.” The benefits for Goodman, moreover, stem as far as lessening the risk design studios can face when recruiting new talent. “A high percentage of the interns we have taken on finish up joining us on a permanent basis. When you hire someone on that basis, when they’ve worked with you for a year, you are eliminating a great deal of the risk in recruitment because you know the person really well and what kind of contribution they can make.
“The industry as a whole would benefit hugely from the sort of thing we’re doing here,” concludes Goodman. “The industry gets bright and talented designers who weren’t necessarily going to go into this industry in the first place.”
There is no doubt that all areas of the superyacht industry need to do their bit in embracing new, and young, talent. However, full of ideas and proposed initiatives, the design sector is poised and ready to take action. All we need is someone to get the ball rolling and really reap the benefits of investing in the future.
Rob Doyle Design
Andrew Winch Designs