Throughout the history of events organised by The Superyacht Group, including the Global Superyacht Forum and SuperyachtDESIGN Week, we have always found it prudent to look to industries vastly different from our own, in order to procure opinions and beliefs that are not found within the superyachting world. This is why in the past, attendees have heard from the minds behind the designs of cars, products and residences across the globe.
At The Superyacht Forum this November (which combines events such as the Global Superyacht Forum and SuperyachtDESIGN Week), there is a dedicated day to the subject of design. Although there will be focused seminars on the art of superyachts, the day will also hear from those that are not involved in our market, and have a fresh approach to the subject.
Richard van der Laken, co-founder of famed Dutch design studio De Designpolitie, will be leading a keynote presentation on Thursday 16 November. In a recent conversation with The Superyacht Report, van der Laken offered his views on design and discussed his ongoing projects, as well as his thoughts on superyachts.
“Everything, in our world, except nature is designed. The clothes you wear, the mobile phone I have in my hand, the software on my computer, the bed I’m sleeping in, toothpaste, everything is designed,” he began. “So, from that perspective you can never underestimate the role of design, and with that you can never underestimate the role of designers, because they are very important in how we live, what we do, how we perceive things, how we look at things and how we translate ideas into something real.”
De Designpolitie is a design agency, based in Amsterdam, that works with clients on communication campaigns and effective visual strategies. The studio’s two founders, van der Laken and his partner Pepijn Zurburg, are also the minds behind the project ‘Gorilla’. ‘Gorilla’ is a visual column that can be found each day in the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant. These designs offer a commentary on current affairs, news and politics from across the world, often with a witty and thought-provoking twist.
"You can never underestimate the role of design, and with that you can never underestimate the role of designers, because they are very important in how we live, what we do, how we perceive things, how we look at things and how we translate ideas into something real.”
In more recent years, van der Laken has turned his attention to social change, with the platform ‘What Design Can Do’. The initiative looks to promote design’s impact on society, bringing together designers, architects and creatives to an international meeting to share ideas. As van der Laken says, “The title is also the proposition, it is quite literally about what design can do or should do, or sometimes can not do.” Most recently trying to tackle the refugee crisis, What Design Can Do is the epitome of van der Laken’s views that design is integral to every situation and solution.
Touching on the subject of superyacht design specifically, van der Laken sees the industry as one that needs to move away from traditional designs. “I was on the Amalfi coast in Italy, and I saw a whole range of these outrageous superyachts, and I was also struck by the fact that in a way they all looked the same, and they have this sort of visual language that is constantly repeated.” Although many concepts in the superyacht world break away from traditional designs, the industry is renowned for it slightly conservative nature.
Van der Laken’s approach to design, found in his work with De Designpolitie, Gorilla and What Design Can Do, is fast-paced and incredibly varied, not phrases often associated with superyacht design projects. “Designers can give you new perspectives on how things are made, how they look and what they look like,” he explained, “And I think that can be done in a much more exciting way.”
You will also find more Richard van der Laken in issue 180 of The Superyacht Report. Find out if you’re eligible for a complimentary subscription here.