Young Yacht Owners Are Rejecting Design Conventions
Gone are stacked wedding cake designs and in their place are interior architect-led creations that foster a connection with the nature outside.
Millennial and Gen-Z superyacht buyers, looking to ditch the stacked-wedding-cake designs favoured by their parents, are turning to 40-something designers from outside the marine industry to realise their visions. Owners of the recently launched 118-metre Celerius chose that tack with Paris-based architect Joseph Dirand and were not disappointed. It was his first yacht, and he broke loads of norms. “I limited myself to just two decks above the waterline and introduced an interior perspective with end-to-end views,” he says.
For Celerius, Dirand put his concepts into practice. He reduced the yacht’s overall height to streamline the profile, extended the length, and freed up the superstructure to create more open-deck areas. “For the interior, I also eschewed glossy finishes and hard angles in favour of soft edges and lots of wood,” he says. “You should feel like you’re on a yacht—less penthouse, more beach house.”
Marie Soliman, the cofounder of Njord Interiors, burst onto the superyacht scene in 2019 with several imaginative designs, including one for the 83-metre Eden. “I’m an interior architect who brings a different energy than what is expected of a typical yacht designer,” she says. “Our clients like our ideas because they’re youthful, sometimes provocative, and often playful.”
Soliman finds that owners who are more concerned with ambiance than resale value are usually those most comfortable breaking with tradition. Her designs are typically client-led, with Soliman fashioning a stylistic language around the owners’ passions: Eden’s light-filled expanse, with a pebbled salon ceiling that not only mimics rippling water but also opens up the space, is designed to reflect the owners’ love of the ocean. Floor-to-ceiling windows and massive skylights help frame the unconventionally elegant mise-en-scène.
For David Weiss, an American designer who sees a revolution in the making, a cross-pollination of ideas is essential. He takes a bold, cinematic approach inspired by filmmakers and production designers. “People that have shaped our experiences with Star Wars, Avatar, and Marvel are my compatriots,” he says, calling their creative ethos a “no-rules space as far as design goes.” With regard to the finished product, Weiss believes the end result “should bring a realm of fantasy to the interior, with a new reality to the experience in general.”
For a young California-based client’s 127-metre craft, Weiss situated the bay for the Venetian tender running transverse through the yacht, complemented by a private reception area where guests hop on and off. The top deck houses a sky bar surrounded by a rotating display of the owner’s motorbike collection, while his car collection is down near the tender garage—and there’s more innovation to come. “We’re working on a mechanism to slide a motorcycle down the aft superstructure so the owner can ride his favourite bike off the dock,” he notes.
This surge in experimentation, driven by a young and financially flush demographic, is particularly well-timed, according to Weiss: “It’s not just that there’s more appetite for it now, but more ability to execute it as well.”
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