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Immaterial affluence: a cultural shift

Oceanco shares how it sees yacht design evolving away from material maximalism to a less-opulent, experience-driven style……

It is no secret that over the years superyachts have frequently been taken in a maximalist aesthetic direction. There was a point when elaborate opulence and an abundance of rarity was considered the height of luxury and the ultimate standard to aspire to. In recent months, Oceanco has noticed several emerging design aesthetics in conversations with designers, brokers and potential clients.

Owners are looking to reintroduce freedom into their lives through the design of their vessels, which prioritizes shared, value-led experiences with loved ones and making genuine connections with new people and places in surroundings that enrich. According to Oceanco, these buyers no longer aspire to traditional markers of wealth or an excess of materialization; they want a cultural shift known as ‘immaterial affluence’. Recent examples of this can be seen on Oceanco's projects Esquel and Kairos.


Yachting does not exist in a vacuum, it is an extension of an owner’s lifestyle. Oceanco prides itself on working with several innovative partners to be constantly evolving and generating new ideas – an initiative called Oceanco NXT. Giles Taylor, one of the contributors to Oceanco NXT comments, “There is a future wave of customers who can afford superyachts but the current, tired equation connecting length, deck space and interior volume that has been used ad nauseam no longer fits with how they want to live their lives.” When it comes to design, Taylor argues that clients want to celebrate open spaces that allow intimate experiences between close friends and loved ones, rather than smaller, separate lounges.

Tommy Kleerekoper, founding partner of design agency TANK – and contributor to Oceanco NXT – agrees: “The yachting industry has been holding on to an old view of luxury, with an abundance of materialization and complexity. The new generation prefers a lighter way of life, where status lies less in physical products. If you have too many rooms, too many decks and too much opulence, it becomes a burden.”

In practice, immaterial affluence can be demonstrated in the physical removal of barriers in shared living spaces to provide freedom, flexibility and connection between guests. These open spaces are inviting, multifunctional places that are attuned to how people actually live now, places where you can work out while spending time with friends and family, or to host business meetings by day and gatherings by night. Oceanco also anticipates the historic divisions between the crew and guest areas to break down and create a less formal environment. Recent design requests include an owner’s table in the bridge, live cooking stations for interactive mealtimes, and guest lounges with glass walls looking into engine rooms for the technically curious. 

“Our passion as designers is to imagine new concepts of space that are capable of bringing enchantment to every moment of the experience,” comments Paolo Pininfarina. “On Kairos [a collaboration between Oceanco and Pininfarina) time, space and people connect to be one in the moment. The owner and their guests are at the epicentre of the onboard experience, and the surrounding space adapts to their every desire. A 360-degree approach to design connects you to the sea below, to the light above and to the spaces and people beside you. It nourishes your curiosity on an instinctive level and encourages you to explore new experiences and perspectives.” 

The inspiration for interiors and furnishings will also be drawn from nature, with a strong influence of ‘biophilic design’ – an aesthetic that integrates natural elements into the yacht’s surroundings. Textures, colours, forms and shapes will reflect those found in the ocean and materials are chosen with sustainability in mind, avoiding the use of rare woods or animal products; instead, human artistry, technology and craftsmanship does the work to create the organic effect. Finally, Oceanco sees a shift from ‘things to experiences’, with the presence of world-class surfers, top divers, researching scientists and historians on board to enrich the guest’s time on the yacht.

As the evolution of yacht design continues, Oceanco is motivated to lead positive change that will inspire a whole new generation of yacht owners through immaterial affluence.

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