For such a small industry, there are a disproportionately large number of superyacht events held throughout the calendar. So it’s not surprising that when it comes to the subject of design there is likely to be a handful of people in the room who have heard it all before. Therefore, we thought it was time to do something different at The Superyacht Design Forum 2019, which will be a fantastic opportunity to bring truly valuable and relevant discussions into the programme that moves away from subject matters we are all too familiar with.

Instead of delving into our own collection of ideas or plucking out a fancy buzzword to string together the subject matter of the event, we decided we should turn to the market and ask what people really want to bring to Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour in June 2019. The fundamental aim of this event is to offer discussions and debates that won’t be heard at any other superyacht event.

“The definitive UK event for the superyacht design community.”

- Patrick Coote

“I always slightly yawn when I see the usual same subjects being touted around,” says Mike Reeves, co-founder of Claydon Reeves. This is certainly a sentiment that many in the market would agree with, including me. There are many issues that need to be addressed in our industry, but there are only so many times that we can come together to discuss what we would like to happen or what we would like to see changed before it all gets a little repetitive and, to be honest, a little dull.

“Everyone has completely had their fill of hearing other yachting people pontificate about any subject,” says Dickie Bannenberg of Bannenberg & Rowell. “We all see each other far too often anyway. I just don’t think that putting a superyacht designer on stage brings any new insights.”

So what can we do to provide something educational, entertaining and – most importantly – new to those in attendance? For The Superyacht Design Forum 2019, we have decided to look beyond just superyacht design spheres and turn to other industries that can prompt fresh and exciting discussions, while bringing something totally new to our event. Speakers from other industries will bring their own experiences into the mix or offer a new perspective on issues that manifest themselves in superyacht design spheres the discussions will be rich, diverse and unequivocally fascinating.

In the coming months, The Superyacht Design Forum team will be identifying visionaries and leaders from other industries who have never before spoken at any superyacht event. We are inviting new perspectives to Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour to inspire, initiate thought-provoking discussions and identify new ways of approaching the superyacht market.

“There is so much room for creativity with sustainability, however we are just focusing on the same things over and over again,” says Frank Laupman of Omega Architects. “We have an opportunity to be creative with our sustainable projects. I am a land-based architect as well, and sustainability is a huge aspect which dictates a huge part of the design.” Throughout our research, sustainability has been a subject on many people’s agendas, but this needs to be approached in a way that can provide delegates with a fresh perspective – and this is where our external industries come in.

“A lively event which increases knowledge, exchange and allows networking in an informal environment. Would love to go again!”

- Tony Castro

“Sometimes the marketing of sustainability is very bad because it is all about taxes, limitations and restrictions,” says luxury-yacht architect Philippe Briand. “Of course, our industry does not require such limitations but instead, we need to change the approach to push sustainability in a more exciting way.”

By using sustainability as an example, we want to make sure our discussions aren’t going to be led by the same people who refer to the same points. We all know that sustainability is imperative to the health and progression of the superyacht industry, but it will be far more useful to listen to experts from other industries who have actually managed to make a real difference in their own field. Therefore, instead of a group of superyacht industry stakeholders discussing what we could possibly do, we’ll be hearing from experts from a variety of sectors to learn about about what they have done and how they achieved it.

The Superyacht Design Forum 2019 is about taking important subjects and drawing parallels from other industries to provide a totally new perspective. “There [are] only so many times you can turn to the room full of designers and say, ‘What can we do better?’,” adds Bannenberg. “Yes, there is another take on sustainability, and I think it would be mad not to cover the subject. But the freshness of people from other industries and outside of our bubble is just so essential.”

While our industry may be niche, the one thing we’re not doing is reinventing the wheel. Perhaps the most pertinent take-away point from previous Forums is that there are many things that need to change in the superyacht industry, and a lot of lessons to be learnt. In the grand scheme of things, the superyacht industry is a relatively young market, and there is so much we can learn from other industries to make it better. This is why having a different perspective will be far more productive than listening to people within our own comparatively small bubble.

“Everyone can speak about eco-technology but if you can get people who can make that change and the people that have truly implemented that change, that would be fascinating,” says Rob Armstrong, creative director of ThirtyC Design. “If we bring [experts from other industries] into our world and get designers enthused about what they are doing, that would be really great.”

“Smart conversations [that] opened my eyes to some unfamiliar issues.”

- Luiz De Basto

The industry often hears the same subjects being discussed, and while these are important matters that need to be addressed, things can often become repetitive when the market has so many events throughout the year. That said, there are certainly a couple of subjects that tend to get overlooked, perhaps because they are of a slightly pricklier nature.

“I think ‘reality’ is probably one of the ones that I would like to see – the reality of our industry,” says one designer who chooses to remain anonymous. “For example, we all talk about innovation endlessly but there is very little innovation in our industry. That is quite an uncomfortable conversation to have as much as we all want it. We, as designers, can endlessly innovate but it actually takes someone to pay you to get it done – that is the true reality.”

Obviously, bringing the more controversial subjects into the mix can be difficult. During our research, a number of different designers mentioned corruption in our industry and how tackling this should be approached. This is one area where speakers from other industries may be able to share their experiences, and we have the capacity to take the relevant points from that discussion and apply it to our industry.

There are, of course, subjects that are unique to our industry that we would like to see covered – for example, the designer-broker relationship or superyacht safety from the design perspective. The programme will not overlook these pertinent issues, rather explore similar scenarios from neighbouring and relevant industries to find out how these were addressed and overcome, rather than speculating how the superyacht industry should change.

From our conversations with leading design figures and influencers, the message from the market is clear: We’ve all heard too much of the same subjects from the same people and it’s time to take a different approach. The Superyacht Design Forum 2019, to be held at Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, will see a fascinating amalgamation of industries coming together with a fresh perspective and a completely new and inspiring approach.

In June 2019, more than 200 delegates will gather to look at our market from a completely new perspective and encourage a new way of thinking in the superyacht design world. Register for your ticket here and don’t miss this opportunity to think differently.


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.