In the Golden Age of yachting, the naval architect was a master builder. Besides being in charge of design, he often supervised construction and sometimes even provided brokerage, survey and insurance services. Today, every task has a specialist. While this has improved efficiency, it means that the design and build process is no longer overseen by a single person with an architectural background.
This absence of the master builder, and the rise of “new money”, has profoundly influenced yacht design. On the one hand, it allowed the industry to open up to innovation. On the other hand, design is now often polarised between generic and extravagant, with little consideration for yachting tradition. While the naval architect would avoid these extremes in the past, his task is now often constricted to hull design, leaving no control over the exterior appeal of the yacht.
One issue with this situation is that it will eventually affect the owners themselves. Purely functional designs are cost-effective, but provide no added-value and are potentially less appealing in the long run, on the brokerage and charter market. As for extravagant designs, their complexity means higher construction and maintenance costs, possibly an obstacle to future buyers.
But bowing to extravagance also affects the industry, giving it an image of excess and lack of ethics. In fact, for most designers and shipyards anything seems acceptable, provided it’s technically feasible and there is a budget.
I believe in a different approach to yacht building — one with a renewed sense of responsibility. A conviction that technical feasibility and budget alone can’t determine what is sensible and what is not. Personally, I will not collaborate on any project, unless it is ethically justifiable: architecturally meaningful, of a sensible size, built in socially acceptable circumstances, and mindful of the environment.
Ultimately, the measure of success is long term value, not breaking records, winning awards or turning heads. This approach allows owners to save money, reduce their environmental impact, contribute meaningfully to the history of yacht building, and above all, preserve their integrity.
As an Owner’s Representative, I advise and represent owners throughout the entire design and build process of their yacht. My exact responsibilities will differ according to each case, but typically consist of overseeing the project on the owners behalf and facilitating communication with the team. An exploratory meeting will allow the owner and myself to decide about a potential collaboration.
The initial stage will start with understanding the owner’s needs, personality and taste, and defining the project’s main characteristics, such as the type of yacht, programme, length, budget, style, timing and preferred designers and shipyard. With this information I will elaborate a design brief, with preliminary specifications. If required, I will advise on the most suitable partners and assist with the initial consultations and the selection process.
Once the design phase is initiated, I will liaise between the team and the owner. Logically, naval architecture will precede exterior and interior design. But when exterior designers are involved, this process is sometimes inverted. By experience, I know the pitfalls of such approach, and advise owners on the benefits of timeless appeal versus flashy, superficial design.
Updates and questions from the team are gathered and discussed with the owner’s, on a chosen frequency. Once preliminary drawing are available, contacts with the the shipyard(s) will become more specific. When several shipyards are considered, a tender phase will allow to compare different conditions and select the most suitable one. oversee the compliance with specifications, schedule and budget.
During construction, I will attend team meetings and perform on-site inspections, at project milestones. On these occasions, I either assist or represent the owner. Reports are made with the agreed level of detail and frequency. At any time I ensure that the owner’s requirements are clear to the entire team. While an impeccable delivery is our main goal, I help the owner in make sure that the building process is a rewarding one.
Which each project, my main goal is long term satisfaction for the owner. I aim to have each project built, not just professionally, but also responsibly. As detailed in my Approach, I will only collaborate on projects that are architecturally meaningful, of a sensible size, built in responsible circumstances, and mindful of the environment.
I provide project management services for new-build and refit, covering the entire construction process or specific stages.
Generally, these are assignments for shipyards, dealing with the technical side of construction, on-site. However there are situations in which owners appoint their own project manager, for overall coordination and control of budget and schedule. This can be the case on larger projects, when the Owner’s Representative is unable to cover all required tasks. Or, on (semi-custom) projects without a Representative, where owners decide to appoint a project manager to follow-up the project on their behalf.
Regardless of who I am working for, my approach remains constant. I will only collaborate on projects that are architecturally meaningful, of a sensible size, environmentally-conscious and built in responsible circumstances.
The purchase of a new yacht typically raises a myriad of questions, and requires insight into specific market segments.
Pre-purchase advice provides aspiring owners with personalised, cost-effective and impartial information to help them evaluate a potential purchase.
The subject of the advice can be any design or construction related issue, for any size or type of (semi) custom yacht. If needed, I can provide a report with market research on a specific segment.
Altogether, the information will provide a clear overview of the possibilities for a given size/type of yacht, without the need to consult brokers, designers or shipyards.
Once concluded, and if the client decides to commission a yacht, I can further assist as a representative throughout the design and build process.