17 Apr 2014 Last updated

Design Inspirations

'Floating kingdoms' of the ocean

Superyacht design that places high style on the high seas

Words: Charlotte Butterfield
Added 14:26 | September 16, 2013
  • Spacious decks that balance lounging with dining and entertainment are prerequisites for most yacht owners.

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  • The Kathleen Anne is a 39m yacht with a streamlined exterior.

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  • Kathleen Anne’s luxurious interior was designed by specialists Bannenberg & Rowell.

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  • The designers focused on beautiful marquetry, subtle sculptures and sumptuous fabric choices 113.

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  • The aft deck of Issana is the perfect space for dining or lounging al fresco.

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  • Soothing white and soft dove grey combine to form the colour scheme for Issana’s tranquil master suite.

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  • Whether it’s being used for business or holidays, what better way to unwind than in Issana’s on-deck hot tub?

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  • The library is a quiet, elegant space ideal for on-board business meetings or more formal entertaining.

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  • Guests can enjoy a game of squash on board the stunning Madame Gu.

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Floating kingdoms, palaces of the seas, call them what you will but the new breed of superyacht is much more than just a pleasure boat for the super-wealthy. Cecil Wright and Partners is a new yacht broker, specialising in the art of matchmaking clients with the perfect vessel for purchase or charter. The firm invited InsideOut to have a sneak peek inside a few of its clients’ yachts, unlocking an exclusive world of luxury. 

The stunning interiors of the 39m Kathleen Anne were created by yacht design firm Bannenberg & Rowell, which devised a calm and smart private retreat. The owners are, as Simon Rowell puts it, “allergic to flash” and so handsome and quality materials are used throughout – walnut, white oak, rosewood and macassar ebony are the woods of choice for cabinetry and marquetry, while white and grey Calcutta stone and brown Emperador marble are used subtly to line the bathrooms. The open-plan main saloon has relaxed and inviting sofas, while in the adjoining dining area, a large oak and nickel table sits on a custom-made rug that pays homage to the owner’s herd of shorthorn cattle. Strong limestone sculptures by John Farnham (a disciple of Henry Moore) sit atop these, juxtaposed to boldly coloured lithographs by Ian Davenport on the forward wall. 

Johnny Vickers, director at Redman Whiteley Dixon, the interior designer for 55.5m superyacht Issana, says that for many owners, their yachts have become an extension of their homes – they use the vessels “as a central hub for family gatherings, holidays and entertaining. There is usually, however, an element of business use, which means that communications systems have to be of the highest level as well.” Creating a design that ticks all these boxes is a specially honed skill. “Due to the restricted space available, a superyacht is more akin to a complex puzzle where every element is beautifully slotted into place in only one combination,” says Johnny. “There are a huge number of aesthetic and technical challenges to designing a luxury yacht, from understanding the principles of naval architecture, manufacturing and build regulations, to furniture design, fabric selection and lighting. Integrating the yacht systems with the interior design – so the aesthetics are not affected – is one of the most important factors in achieving a successful project.” In Issana, an elegantly cool white and cream scheme has been employed, with subtle pale blue splashes of colour in the fabrics and upholstery. 

You’d be forgiven for thinking that new-generation yacht owners are steering away from the decadent in favour of the understated. While this may be true of the elegant interior design, when it comes to extravagant amenities, these yachts have more than their fair share. A huge 50” TV graces the Skylounge on the bridge deck of the Kathleen Anne; the aft deck of Issana hosts a 10-person jacuzzi and the newly acquired Madame Gu – at 99m the largest Feadship in existence – even boasts its own squash court… On reflection, ‘floating kingdoms’ or ‘palaces of the seas’ are actually pretty accurate descriptions.

Words: Charlotte Butterfield

Words: Charlotte Butterfield