Just over a decade ago, Debra Reuben, an experienced owner with impeccable style, exacting standards and a desire to create something unique, chose a new design graduate and intern at Hamburg’s yacht design studio Newcruise, Katharine Raczek, to lead the interior design on her 66.7m motoryacht project, Triple Seven.

The dedication and passion for the project was to mark the start of a long design partnership between Reuben and Raczek. “Kathy had an infectious enthusiasm and this new way of looking at things,” says Reuben. “We took out cornices, we threw this out, we threw that out. Triple Seven went from being just another yacht to a more minimalised, timeless classic.”

M/Y Triple Seven, Reuben and Raczek's first project together.

Reuben and Raczek went on to work together on 2008’s 73m Siren and 2011’s 73.5m Sapphire with Kristal Waters (a construction and management company of luxury superyachts owned by Reuben and her husband); each very different yachts but with the same dedication to detail and unifying form language at their core. “We are both crazy,” says Reuben. “I mean, Kathy literally ate, drank, slept and breathed all of my three projects. Without a break or intermission. If she had time to think about anything else, it would be the next project.”

The pair would meet around every two weeks to dedicate at least a whole day to designing. They would attend boat shows and furniture shows together. “When the team saw us coming, everybody ran,” laughs Raczek. “They couldn’t bear it. We would spend ages looking at samples, comparing them in different lights.” They got excited about the little things together; they shared a similar sense of style, textures, structures and materials. “We just understood each other,” says Reuben. Raczek nods in agreement: “I think that’s what makes our relationship really great.”

(Left to right) Debra Reuben and Katharina Raczek

For Reuben, she has always taken an ‘all-or-nothing’ approach to her yachts projects; something that she admits is not the same for all owners. “I’m amazed by how a lot of owners remain detached from their projects, leaving most decisions to the designers,” says Reuben. She recollects meeting someone at a dinner party who had a yacht that was nearing completion but she had not been to visit it and had no idea what it looked like inside. “She couldn’t relate to my passion,” says Reuben. “And that isn’t unusual. Some owners don’t feel the need to be part of the project. Some designers may have found my involvement difficult as well. But with Kathy, her mission is to create the owner’s vision with part of her soul. It’s a special collaboration.”

Owner's stateroom on board M/Y Siren, the yacht closest to Reuben's heart

So does this design dream team have any plans to create anything together again? “You know something, I am going to build a penthouse in Mayfair and Kathy is going to do it,” says Reuben calmly. “Wait, is that still on?” says a surprised Raczek. “Yes!” Reuben assures her. “I feel like I’ve been busy for 10 years and I had to put so many things to one side. But in the last year-and-a-half I have started bringing them back.”

For the full-length interview with Debra Reuben and Katharina Raczek, see Issue 16 of The Superyacht Owner, out now. Subscribing members can read it online here. To become a subscriber, click here.

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