Technology, the environment and total freedom: Ocean Independence asks some next generation designers how the next generation of owners will influence the future of yacht design.
As the next generation of clients set their sights on the world of yachting, it is natural that their priorities will be different than those of previous generations. Now it is the next generation of superyacht designers who will be tasked with making their yachting dreams a reality. From sustainability, innovation and travel without limits, Ocean Independence asks some top young designers: How will the next generation of owners influence yacht design?
The next generation are technology-driven with an eye on their environmental impact on the world. We are starting to see more yachts with alternative propulsion systems, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. The next generation have far more opportunity to change yacht design in this aspect than ever before. Flipping the question on its head: is it the owners that have the greatest influence, or is it the designers that have the greatest control and ultimate responsibility for the future? In the end, it is the designers that propose the design regardless of brief. Many people don’t know what they want until they see it.
Today I think that there is more freedom for clients to achieve whatever they want, with less fear of criticism. Society now encourages us to live our lives in a more unconstrained manner – however we choose – with no obligation to meet the typical norms, whether that is with family set-ups, sexuality, or individuality. I think this means we will see lots of trends in design running parallel to each other rather than just one or two dominant ‘fashion’ trends as is common now. The advancing abilities of designers and shipyards also means that anything is possible; there really are fewer boundaries than ever before. I think we will inevitably see growing environmental awareness among the clients themselves, the governments, the brokerage companies – all people involved in yachting and use of seas – and this will be increasingly explored in design.
You could write a book on this subject! I believe the first thing to do is to figure out who this ‘next generation’ is and if they actually exist. Let’s talk hypothetically and hope that there is a new generation of owners that are more open to change and willing to explore different horizons. We can also hope that this future generation will have a more positive attitude towards environmental issues and sustainability. As designers, it will then be our duty to start thinking about a smarter product, with a reduced environmental impact. What we must do as yacht designers is to try to ‘educate’ the new owner to a new way of experiencing the sea, made possible by this new type of product, and to trust shipyards. All too often, owners are still holding back when facing the high cost of an innovative product, failing to realise that this cost translates into new opportunities for them. The industry must invest in research, it must be the engine to stimulate the customer to investigate the change and to accept it. This also means working to offer products that don’t exist yet, it means investing, experimenting and creating prototypes because the customer wants to see and touch the new product we are offering him. In a word, it takes courage from the industry to research and innovate.
There seems to be a greater environmental awareness but with the same demand for luxury as past generations, just with a more contemporary approach. Clients are also spending more time on their yachts, often with their families for long periods of time and this of course dictates several priorities to make their stay as much like a home as possible. It’s hard to say exactly how yacht design will evolve in future although there are some key factors that will play a part. Younger environmentally conscious clients may choose to build more eco-efficient yachts, which create a statement about who they are as appose to how wealthy they are. Ever-evolving use of new materials and eco technologies such a structural glass and hydrogen power will also have an influence both externally and internally. The yachts at the end of the decade will likely look very different to the ones we see today.
When it comes to designing their yacht, the next generation are far more focused on creating a platform that enhances their lifestyle. This is particularly seen in the layouts, which are increasingly conceived around an activity or group of activities. The ‘gin palace’ view of superyachts that was once the norm is only going to continue to change thanks to the next generation. Superyachts are no longer seen as just ostentatious platforms for entertaining; they enable owners to experience more and live life to the fullest. They centre on watersports, exploration and wellness. Obviously, every project we work on is custom and every client is different, but in general, the layouts of the yachts we are designing has evolved, with far more activity based around the main and lower deck aft with large pools and beach clubs. Of course, the entertainment side of yachting is still a key part of the lifestyle, but the wishes have shifted; dining areas down on the waterline are one example, or outdoor cinemas on the sundeck.
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