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The light bulb moment

We speak with Dernier & Hamlyn about some of their most impressive light installations on superyachts…

Dernier & Hamlyn have been making lights for a long time - the company was founded in 1888 just eight years after Thomas Edison began commercialising his own incandescent light bulb. Today, they build the most incredible and bespoke lighting solutions in the world for the most luxurious superyachts as well as restaurants and residential properties. Their projects in the superyacht industry are amongst their most impressive works, but unfortunately, like many artisans, artists, and suppliers working for the UHNW sector, not every product gets to see the light of day due to non-disclosure agreements.

On the 67m M/Y Aurora Borealis, the lighting required expert handling by specialist craftsmen and artisans, it was also made using the most sumptuous materials including gold plated brass, shagreen leather, silk, alabaster and straw marquetry. While beautiful to look at, much of the lighting for the vessel raised huge engineering challenges for the Dernier & Hamlyn team to achieve the required aesthetic and lighting levels and to also ensure it was robustly fixed for seaworthiness, without any of the fixings being visible.

Dernier & Hamlyn aren’t just in the business of designing and creating products, they also help to maintain and restore old lighting installations that have been installed on superyachts. Michael Mulhall, Director of Sales at Dernier & Hamlyn answers the question, how many superyacht stakeholders does it take to change a lightbulb?

“When you've got these really high value pieces, people are very reluctant to start to take them apart or try to just change a connection or fixing. So it is always best to get the specialists to come in and do it,” explained Mulhall.

Speaking to SuperyachtNews, Mulhall continues, “When you make a light for a superyacht, it needs to look like one complete piece. And while perhaps to you and I and 99.9% of the world, you don’t even notice the connections and joints. But the interior designers do, they look for that sort of stuff. So you really need high quality materials and innovative engineering. I think the other big point about bespoke lighting that goes into superyachts is the need to maintain it. You've got to be able to replace the parts quite easily, which sounds basic, but actually, when you have a really intricate, decorative piece that's so beautifully engineered, being able to just open a part of it and change the bulb can be more challenging than it might sound.”

When it comes to the superyacht industry, and clients for which money is no object, there is no telling what kind of request is going to come through to the suppliers. For example, on the 50m M/Y Malahne, the aim was to make it ‘feel like a historically original interior’, although it was actually all new rooms. Guy Oliver, the designer of the project, designed period appropriate interiors and knew that finding either antique fittings or something off the peg would be highly unlikely. With a commercial timetable to work to, designing the fittings and having them made bespoke by Dernier & Hamlyn was the most sensible solution for this project.

Speaking on his experience with the project and working alongside Dernier & Hamlyn, Oliver said, “Dernier & Hamlyn has a lot of knowledge about how to create, make and maintain aesthetically pleasing and practical light fittings. Whenever I design a fitting it’s not just making something that looks beautiful it’s also about creating something that is easy to maintain so Dernier & Hamlyn’s expertise is invaluable.”

Main image: MY Aurora Borealis dining room

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The light bulb moment

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