A considerable amount of superyacht design is spent speculating about the future, what the market will look like and what owners will be asking for. As a result, many designers spend time creating unusual designs in an attempt to pre-empt the next era of modern superyacht design.
“This has always been the intent of design concepts, to study and create stylistic vision of what may be possible in five, 10 or even 20 years,” says Sam Sorgiovanni. While it may not directly lead to a new project, considering futuristic styling is an essential part of design. So, how does one find the balance of creating a serious futuristic project without falling into the trap of creating something which the market deems ridiculous or simply a PR stunt?
Looking at the last 25 years of yacht design there has been a big change in conceptual design, predominantly thanks to the introduction of CAD and other design software, which really has no limits in terms of what you can create. Design calculations which used to take days, now take seconds, and mistakes are simply undone rather than rubbed out. But just because we now have the capacity to put together a wildly futuristic project in a few hours, doesn’t mean we necessarily need to.
As Sorgiovanni explains, “There are so many new designers that are now experts at generating realistic 3D images using CAD and CGI that are technically unbuildable, which is a wonderful thing, as the human mind has no limits, but we do need to keep it within the realms of possibility.”
If one looks through some of the works of Jon Bannenberg, like those which are shown in the book, Jon Bannenberg: A Life of Design, the thought processes, time and effort that was put into each and every drawing is immediately obvious, but it is something we don’t really come across that often when it comes to modern conceptual design. The simple, but invaluable process of sketching a design seems to be a dying art, to the point where it’s not even one of the fundamental elements of academic study.
“At university we had a lot of self-directed study, where the lecturers advised us to go to life drawing classes and sketch as much as possible, but we had very little drawing teaching directly,” says designer Ben Hills of Bannenberg and Rowell, who studied automotive and transport design. He continues, “the course is definitely CAD-heavy and we had a lot of guidance and help learning the software.”
Being able to draw is such an important aspect of design and a raw way of showing someone what you’re thinking, be it other designers, the media or perhaps an owner. The capacity of software such as Rhino is incredible, but the capacity of hand-drawing in design is even better. Obviously, CAD is the only real way of presenting a final design these days, but it certainly shouldn’t be a replacement for traditional techniques.
“I have always tried to push boundaries with my designs, but with a keen eye on what is realistic and possible,” says Sorgiovanni. “A classic link to a concept that is progressive and not taking a dramatic leap into the future is so important, as it’s my belief that clients and builders want a design that is progressive and stylish but not necessarily too wild or ‘out there’ that it becomes unsellable.”
Clearly it’s important to consider futurism and the design elements that are transforming the way superyachts appear in the modern day. But it’s equally important not to disregard the designs and techniques that made this industry what it is, and the designs which have become iconic, regardless of changing trends, style and focus of futurism.