Further to a recalibration of Focus/20 by Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, Martin Redmayne – Chairman, The Superyacht Group, hosted a virtual discussion with Dickie Bannenberg (Company Leader) and Simon Rowell (Creative Director) at Bannenberg & Rowell, as part of the new virtual programme for this year’s event.

Redmayne kicked off the session by asking the two principals of Bannenberg & Rowell to share their insights into what’s really happening in the world today from a yacht design perspective, how the current global situation has affected them in terms of their thought, conceptual and client processes - ultimately, what has changed...

“Life has, of course, changed, but one’s got to take recognition of the fact that our whole environment and lifestyle is so different now,” began Bannenberg. “This was starting in a different way quite a while back when privacy became the new luxury and now more than ever, excessive, show-off luxury is just out. Luxury will become more casual and far less ostentatious, and it’s something to embrace,” he continued.

Rowell then emphasised that each breed of yacht from an owner is different, but the common thread between all superyachts should be the experience – not the sense of opulence and ostentatious showing off. “The real magic on board is where these vessels can take you, and the life you have on board, as well as what you can do. We’ve always felt that’s what’s magical about yachts, and if we can move incrementally away from the ‘showroom’ aspect then, while it’s not necessarily new, I think evolving in that way is an interesting place for us to be designing,” Rowell explained.

Redmayne pointed out that on some vessels, there can be a sense that it is too stark, too perfect, too special, and the vessel does not invite you to relax. “In this current world we are trying to relax and get through this period, so another driver is that feeling of absolute comfort so when you sit down on board, the sensory feeling should be perfect, in a private environment and in a mindset of relaxation,” Redmayne commented, recalling often far too distracting interiors.

“We are also seeing a lot of younger owners coming in with fresh ideas about the yacht’s purpose,” added Rowell, noting this impact on design. “There is a growing trend of connectivity with the see and importance of exterior spaces,” commented Bannenberg. “This trend is looming large, and is a crucial part of that relaxed lifestyle and sense of comfort,” Bannenberg continued, drawing on the recent quote by the luxury men’s fashion and style magazine, GQ, “We are living in the age of sweatpants and never going back.”

“People are spending a lot longer on board now,” Redmayne added, raising another topic that possibly changes things for the overall design of a contemporary yacht. “We’re no longer talking about two weeks in the summer, it’s part of someone’s annual experience. How does that change the design?” he asked. 

Rowell began by highlighting that the design studio always provides lots of options for different environments. “We’ve always had this in mind. A yacht may be big but human scale is important, so the flexibility with spaces on board is closer to the way you might live in a villa - you don’t stick to an exact regime even with guests or family,” Rowell explained, noting that multiple cosy areas with a more spacious design will become more relevant than ever. 

The session then looked closely at some of Bannenberg & Rowell’s design concepts from this year, including Project Telex (pictured above in main image). At 65m and approximately 15,000GT, the yacht is intended as a long-distance adventure vessel, fit to explore beyond the Mediterranean. 

“This concept was generated entirely from a blank piece of paper. Architecturally, we wanted to move all obstructions and consolidate those away from the views and indoor/outdoor guest areas and guest interaction,” began Rowell. 

“Going back to our villa idea, we have a pool deck with visibility right through to the forward area of the main salon. We have no formal dining space, but two dining tables that can be moved around in that space,” Rowell continued, emphasising the flexibility of the layout.

Another interesting feature of the design is the staircase tucked away behind a sofa (pictured above), which allows guests to access the beach club in any weather without going outside. The reason for this, Rowell explains, is that this is an ‘adventurers yacht’, and that means being exposed to different weather conditions.  “You can also use the beach club in any weather without going outside, and it is doubled-up as a gym and cinema room. When the area cannot fold out [for weather-related reasons], you can still use it,” Rowell commented, so the designers have not made the assumption that the vessel is always going to be in ‘Mediterranean mode’.

The travel industry is evolving and curating more adventure and itinerary-based packages, and it is important to note that the Mediterranean sea is only 7 per cent of the world’s ocean. There is a bigger playground available, for example, the Alaska cruising ground, the Indian ocean, and this concept has been designed to accommodate those desires and to enjoy the places a yacht can take you with your friends and family - all at a safe distance thanks to its spacious, relaxing design.

To watch the rest of the session and learn more about Project Telex, and to hear Bannenberg and Rowell discuss the 43m Project Estrade, click here

Images courtesy of Bannenberg & Rowell. 

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