While every superyacht interior is highly individual and subject entirely to the owner’s personal taste, it is still possible to spot trends in terms of inspirational style or materials. British design studio Design Unlimited has recently noticed a growing interest in the use of unusual and more exotic skins as a part of their superyacht interiors. We talk to some leading interior designers in the industry about the different exotic skins used in design at the moment.

“[Skins] from rare mammals and other protected species are of course rightly prohibited,” says Julie Tucker. “But suppliers such as Simpsons Mirrors & Furniture and Dentrohome are taking advantage of the rise in sustainable farming of species such as crocodile, snake and ostrich to bring these skins into the mainstream alongside old favourites such as parchment (derived from goat hide) and vellum.” Parchment is a popular choice on board superyachts and Design Unlimited has worked with furniture manufacturer and supplier Tatiana Tafur to use it on board the interiors of the 46-metre S/Y Pink Gin (pictured) and the recently launched 45-metre M/Y Karia. SYD also recently spotted parchment-covered bedside tables on the 74-metre Reymond Langton-designed M/Y Mogambo.

Design Unlimited has also seen resurgence in the demand for furs. “The usual species, all ethically-sourced, remain popular, but once again the choice has been expanding with coarser-haired animals such as horse and pony being valued for their hard-wearing qualities,” says Tucker. Fur doesn’t need to be a flamboyant addition to a room, like a zebra skin rug. In Mogambo’s African inspired interior, it acts as a subtle accent, with the bar stools, for example, being covered in antelope hide.

Another alternative to traditional leather finishes and hides is ray skin. Ray skin, or shagreen, has been used in yacht interiors for years, but Gillian Brown from Wetzels Brown Partners tells SYD that she has noticed its use growing in popularity recently. These skins are hardwearing, can be used for a wide range of surfaces and can be dyed to great effect. Alexandre and Cristina Negoescu used ray skin for the interior of recently launched M/Y Darlings Danama and large quantities of this unique material were specified for the 36-metre S/Y Bliss, where the spine detail on the skins is a recurring detail throughout the yacht (pictured). For Newcruise designer Katharina Raczek, shagreen is one of their more popular unusual materials, due to its link to the Art Deco era — a period that inspires many of her interior designs. “In this period galuchat [another name for shagreen] was rediscovered and became very popular,” she says. “The colour palette was more pale than today — pale pink, green, blue, grey and brown. Today the palette is inspired by the fashion industry and works with stronger tones and provides a vivid range from purple over to fuchsia pinks and apple greens.”

For Mohannad Khallouf of Greenline Yacht Interiors, cow leather still holds the title of being the undisputed ‘queen’ of all finishes though. “The special attribute of leather is that you can practically use it to execute the entire interior finishing,” he says. “It is currently being used in everything from wall panels and ceilings, to soft furnishings, cabinets and even floors.” He feels that as a result of the high demand for exotic finishes there has consequently been an explosion of creativity and initiative in the industry to come up with new treatments and techniques to create sophisticated embossed leather that replicates exotic animal leathers using cow leather. By adapting traditional leather to make it resemble more unusual finishes, it is possible to design the striking and unusual interiors that owners specify but also remain sensitive to animal rights issues and make the most of its versatility as a material.

Ultimately the trends in the fashion industry almost always cross over into the world of interior design, influencing the finishes and materials that owners choose for their yachts. “Luxury crosses borders between clothes and home fashion,” explains Gillian Brown. “The fashion industry is most people’s first hand contact with the ideas presented by the big luxury brands. Handbags are a clear example - Hermès for the famous signature textured leather of the Birkin Bag and Bottega Veneta produces limited edition alligator bags.” For Dickie Bannenberg, like Khallouf, textured leather doesn’t necessarily always mean using actual exotic skins or hides, instead embossed leathers can be an alternative. There will always be some clients that want the real thing though: “I do remember years ago when we were doing Siran at de Vries, the client brought a roll of python skins to our studio saying they were perfect for covering architraves.”

Related Links:
Design Unlimited - company profile
Newcruise - company profile
Bannenberg & Rowell Design - company profile
Greenline Yacht Interiors - company profile

Photo Credits:
M/Y Karia, RMK Marine and Marc Paris
Eel skin chair, Dentrohome

If you have enjoyed reading this article, you’ll love our upcoming event, The Superyacht Design Forum, taking place on 25 - 26 June 2019 at Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour. The Superyacht Design Forum provides anyone in the superyacht design world with a unique opportunity to explore new thinking and share smarter solutions for the future of superyachts. To find out more or to register, click here.