Over the last 25 years, computers have flooded superyacht design to the point where hand drawing is seen as a rather archaic approach to superyacht design. But as Toby Ecuyer creative director of RWD explains, there are nuances that the pencil can offer, that the computer simply cannot. This makes the approach of RWD a truly interesting one, Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, the design studio, based in Beaulieu, Hampshire, is peppered with drawing boards complemented by computers.

Even on the most esteemed design courses, guidance in hand-drawing doesn’t appear to be a significant part of the curriculum. The emergence of computers as an essential tool for every business on the planet within RWD’s lifetime means they are now viewed as the basis of design to the point where drawing by hand is a process that doesn’t necessarily need to happen at all.

“I don’t think people are learning the proper techniques because it’s not encouraged,” says Ecuyer. “We’re getting to the point where designers have no idea how everything actually goes together, and this is because they’re staring at a screen with a two-dimensional mindset. If you did it on paper, then you would understand that that’s not going to work within five seconds, which you don’t get with design software.”

So why is drawing such a valuable contributing factor to the design process if we can now do everything on computer? It’s because one of the most important things you can offer a client is actually being with them, listening to them and getting a real sense of what they like; their thoughts can be put down on paper immediately and they can visualise it there and then. It’s much more real, and they feel like they’ve been part of the design process, something that would be difficult only with a computer.

“I sketched a table on a tablecloth with the owner of motoryacht Baton Rouge, and that was pretty much the only drawing I did of it,” says Ecuyer. “It wouldn’t have worked quite as well if I had said, ‘I can go and model that in Rhino’ – it wouldn’t have had any of the wobbles in the drawing, which is much more authentic.” This is the type of relationship which makes the process more enjoyable for owners, and gives them the sense that they have created the yacht.

The full story on the value of hand drawing is featured in issue 182 of The Superyacht Report. Subscribe here.

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