As forecasters in fashion, music, art, and manufacturing know, industry trends flow like tributaries from the great river Zeitgeist. And as worldwide economic woes (which seem to be easing, at last) have had their turn at center stage, they've done more than dominate headlines and keep those hardest hit awake at night: They have caused a mass shift in perspective that seems, well seismic. The ultimate luxury, no matter your income bracket, has become time- and spending it with friends and family. Even in the world of superyachts-interior designs show a trend toward simplicity. But exactly how is this being reflected in superyacht décors? And is there anything for owners of yachts in the 60- to 100- foot range to learn when their interior starts looking dated?
The Overall Look
"There's a huge migration toward less is more," says Ft. Lauderdale-based designer Patrick Knowles, "a trend to a simpler environment, less clutter. People understand that you do not have to have clutter to have things." Marty Lowe, of Marty A. Lowe, Inc. Interior Design, also in Ft. Lauderdale, put it this way. "Minimalism is hard. What is in view has to be perfect." Beauty is in the details, in exotic leathers, stunning joinery, the perfect alignment of architectural details."
The ornate, palatial approach is out. Spare furnishings and natural materials are in. This is reflected, overall, in an interior aesthetic that's contemporary and clean, sometimes described as Zen or minimalist. "This speaks to flooring, fabric, bulkhead materials-it applies to everything, including bed linens and silverware," says Knowles.
"Our clients really use their boats," says Lowe. "They're active and family-oriented, so they want an interior that's luxurious, yet conducive to life on the water. Above all, it's about appropriateness and suitability." "We do slipcovers in beautiful washed linen, even cashmere slipcovers," says Lowe.
No matter how luxe the fabric, though, it comes off so the crew can keep it looking good. "We place a huge emphasis on luxury bedding with high-thread-count linens-often with intricate embroidery, pique bedcovers, and duvets with silk-filled inserts." Lowe says that even scent is used in creating a sense of soothing luxury aboard.
Without a single structural change, a smaller yacht can be dramatically transformed just by applying this new aesthetic. Get rid of the striped silk drapes, the Regency furniture, the objets d'art. Bring in a neutral palette, natural fibers, and a couple of treasured possessions or pieces of art that say something personal.
Getting Back to the Sea
Another reflection of time as the ultimate luxury is seen in a trend toward connecting with the water. "First it was flush sterns, where a traditional transom didn't connect with the water; then there was an awkward ladder down to a swim platform; then a staircase to a larger transom area or swim platform. Now it's a dual staircase down to a beach lounge," notes Knowles. If you've been to a boat show recently, you may have seen superyachts whose transoms open to reveal massive stowage areas for tenders and water toys. But the latest designs go a step further to create large beach deck areas.