Setup of the liners is considered to be the most important and the most expensive assembly of any new construction project. While the interior setup of serial yachts is usually done by a shipyard, it is noteworthy that the bigger a yacht is, the higher is a probability that high-quality setup would be purchased on a turn-key basis. Designing of the interface is a complicated process for all the involved parts, such as shipyards, clients, designers and material suppliers and also crucial for the success of the project. That’s why it is necessary to pay attention not only to those parts of the interior setup, that serve functional purposes but also to those aspects that create a favourable atmosphere for relaxation. The bigger a yacht is, the more room for creativity it allows and the more individualistic an approach to the project should be.
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While the interior setup of serial yachts is usually done by a shipyard, it is noteworthy that the bigger a yacht is, the higher is a probability that high-quality setup would be purchased on a turn-key basis. Designing of the interface is a complicated process for all the involved parts, such as shipyards, clients, designers and material suppliers and also crucial for the success of the project. That’s why it is necessary to pay attention not only to those parts of the interior setup, that serve functional purposes but also to those aspects that create a favourable atmosphere for relaxation. The bigger a yacht is, the more room for creativity it allows and the more individualistic and approach to the project should be.
Special coverings – Stardust Effect in Setup
Quite often we achieve a special atmosphere when equipping a yacht through the use of special materials. These materials are very important for creating a modern design of a yacht. Special coverings are a tool that helps us to make a setup look extraordinary. There is a plenty of different materials and creative ideas at our disposal. Especially when the financial aspect of the project is of minor importance and thus a designer can give a free rein to his imagination, then the most extravagant coverings are designed.
There is no doubt that even working at a computer designer can achieve great results. However as we all know nature is the best teacher and muse, that has an infinite range of unique patterns, forms and ideas ready to be used. The key point here is an inspiration. There is a tendency to use natural materials including some exotic ones such as “termite-inspired” walls, eggshells and bones. All these can be used as a basis for a new and fascinating covering if designers opt for creating a unique interior. Those people who have already had a chance to see a setup of this kind would know the role of coverings in the creation of a general impression on design. In this case, the coverings do not act intrusively, but rather create in combination with natural materials the very atmosphere, that clients and designers are looking for.
When natural materials are used, a question arises if a sustainable depletion of resources would be possible or not. Do we inflict a damage of nature and its flora and fauna when we use natural materials? The answer is no, as the materials of which the coverings are produced are mainly the tests that haven’t been used for primary utilisation. Those who have ever been working with the pearl shells used on farms know that on big farms they are bred with the only purpose of getting pearls. But the shells are usually thrown away, even though they have a wonderful pearl-lustre on the other side. Thus the use of these tests is not only sustainable but also helps us in creating incredible designs. The same can be said about bones, feathers, stones, timbers, leather and so on. With the help of special painting techniques and new materials, there always appear new variants that can be further implemented into specific setups by our designers. What would be of a facility, when created without a variety of implemented special coverings in it? Even though there is no doubt that designers can achieve a lot simply playing with rooms arrangement and their equipment. Waterfalls, Fireplaces, different musical instruments starting from pianos and ending up with organs or even the orchestras – all these have already been used. But what if only walls and standard materials are used? In such a design you would probably be missing that special lustre and luxurious accent of the stardust that once again proves that there are no borders for art. While some coverings are further integrated as parts of ceilings, borders or wainscoting, there are also some walls that consist of these materials only and are added to the interior and treated as an expensive painting or a sculpture. It is done because they make a similarly powerful impression. Such materials not only create the arc of suspense but also make an exciting design out of a standard interior decoration. Designers know the importance of preservation of classics and the role of accents and key points in creating an interior design.
The process of creation of something new is exciting by itself, as it gives a client a possibility to bring to reality his own ideas and adjustments. Only imagine how interesting it can be for an owner of the yacht to select and co-create certain samples of e.g. jade and pearl. In this way, the process of designing can be adapted to the individual wishes of the owner and thus the product created would be unique and peculiar, especially as under the designers’ guidance all the ideas can be brought together into a harmonic composition.
However, there are also yachts that completely reject the use of special coverings. In this case, functionality and cost-effectiveness would determine the design. But for the majority of yacht owners, it is of utmost importance to get a unique, individually designed interior, that not everybody can be proud to possess. And this uniqueness can be achieved with the help of special coverings.
Traditional wooden or stone coverings determine the ton and prevailing mood of the design, however, they create a usual, rather than a unique image. Special coverings provide an additional space in the process of designing, as a client is free to choose and adjust colours, patterns and coverings that would be used. By doing so a traditional design gets its own character and style that is based on the concepts of avant-garde.
Thus staterooms, however, share a common concept of setup, do differ in materials and patterns. This method can become even more diverse with the help of the special coverings, as they can either be added and serve as separate architectural elements of cabins or form different elements by themselves. When designed and realised professionally, the coverings would not only look prestigious, but also every day contributes to a pleasant and cosy atmosphere.
Thus Reymond Langton has recently launched a special 90m-project, the client of which, for the purposes of the environment protection, rejected the use of any exotic timbers. Instead of these, he has offered a combination of special- and leather coverings, as well as different materials that had to interplay in the interior and create a totally unique setup. The suggestions met client’s expectations and fulfilled all the requirements as, for example, to design a high-quality super-yacht. And actually, it’s due to the use of special coverings and CNC machining centre we were able to produce some elements of a tricky shape, that couldn’t be produced from any other material or just wouldn’t be as cost-effective as they have actually been.
Designers such as Reymond Langton have already established good relations with material suppliers, that help him to integrate the coverings into an effective design. Nature Squared or DKT offer the coverings, that serve as structured, but not yet fully realised suggestions for designers and thus should inspire them so that as a result of future collaboration a perfect design could be developed and realised in a certain project. Often the efforts put into the development of the adjustments needed are underestimated. And so it may be really frustrating when after the job is already done some other replicas are needed. It is also a kind of unfair treatment of a designer, whose creativity may be damaged and so the competitiveness of his ideas may stumble against plagiarism issues. Nowadays these questions have been widely discussed, understood by the clients and as a result do no longer appear that frequently.
A perfect example of the sustainable and ethical use of a natural product as a byproduct of its main use is from the Asian seafood industry and the discarded skin of the Pufferfish, or Fugu. Highly poisonous to humans ( though interestingly not to dolphins, who seem to enjoy the hallucinogenic high they get from it; see here ), a delicacy in Japan. The poison in Fugu is Tetrodotoxin, 1000 times more potent than cyanide and there is no antidote.
The skin is simply discarded in the processing of the fish, but its unusual and striking finish and the colour effects that can be created are spectacular.
In order to use organic materials on the big yachts, certain certificated developed by and according to the standards of the IMO are needed. Of special importance is according to the rules of the Passenger Yacht Codes fire protection. Attention should also be paid to flame retardancy and segregation of smoke and toxic elements. The issues have already been reported during Boote Exclusive and some suppliers have already developed the materials that fulfil the existing requirements. These certificates are quite expensive, what also influences the price of the coverings.
A lot of coverings are hand-made and require efforts as well as skills to be produced. A square meter can take hundreds of working hours to be produced, in order to get a hand-knotted carpet or any other type of the decorative coverings. As quite often the coverings are produced in the Far East we also consider very ethical the fact that by doing so we provide additional working places for people in economically backwards areas.
While sometimes a total price for all the coverings counted as an absolute value may look frightening and count for a number of pure gold leaves, it accounts only for a small percentage of total costs of the interior design, that belongs only in the low single-digit range of the overall costs.
Sustainably used materials that however are often produced from rests, inspire designers to create incredible patterns and give a special lustre to the coverings and so bring them to the peak of creative uniqueness. So, in this case, the price should not serve as a leading argument, especially as it can often be reduced when a designer decides not to make any “special surface massacre” and when a client buys the coverings directly and makes them available for shipyards and interior decorators. The future will surely show which suppliers of the special coverings provide economic alternative solutions to the exotic coverings without any damages to the quality and at the same time correspond to the high standards and requirements of our clients. Of course, the available budget also plays a crucial role and should be discussed on early stages of projects’ development. An ideal design is achieved through compromises and it can’t be agreed upon all over sudden but rather require some time, as all the attempts to limit or control the creativity process can have a negative effect on the results in a long perspective.
At the end, all the elements of the interior that can be touched and seen would equally contribute to the overall impression the client gets. Especially in the yacht industry, that is full of really amazing and extraordinary possibilities and where so many new and unique ideas are born, it is a good idea to compromise on the costs and focus mainly on achieving incredible results.
Alexander Höfling has been working as a Shipbuilding Engineer since 1991, has been Purchasing Director for Lürssen Werft before in recent years he became the head of Luxury Interior House in Germany & Austria.
He is glad to share his experience of working with international clients and leading yacht producers from all over the world. A series of speeches has been published in the German yacht media and Shippurch.com