Architect Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus school at Weimar, Germany, in 1919, and 24 years later, under the direction of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, it closed. Spawned by the German modernism movement of the 1880s, the rational, functional and radically simplified forms of the Bauhaus continue to influence industrial designers, architects and naval architects. The Infiniti 100 S, drawn by Hugh Welbourn, fits perfectly within the Bauhaus discipline, but a captivating innovation — maybe more important than the aesthetics — lurks beneath the waterline.
Welbourn designed this Infiniti for a client who wanted a very fast cruising yacht that he’d sail most of the time in the Med — blow high, blow low. She had to be stylish and have loads of space topside for the owner and guests to relax, swim and enjoy the experience of sailing. Yes, he’d race the yacht, but he didn’t want that to be her main reason for being. Nor would it be extended cruising. The accommodations would house six guests in three staterooms forward of amidships and four crew members in two cabins aft.
An ultramodern design of this type won’t please everyone. The Infiniti’s sharp entry, plumb stem, chine visible just above the waterline in the after sections and hard edges of the reverse transom slap you across the face, instead of hugging you. On the other hand, the gradual transition from the vertical topsides forward to a graceful flare abaft the deckhouse should reassure you that the slap was purely to get your attention. The subtle spring in her sheer line also softens the blow and may help traditionalists appreciate the excellence of this design, even if they can’t love it.
In stark contrast to the severe angles of the hull, the deckhouse rises like an orca’s forehead from a sea of teak. This conceptual rendering suggests that the house is made of smoked tempered glass or Lexan, but the portside elevation reveals the faint outline of a long and thin window in the side of the house. Infiniti Yachts wasn’t ready to release many details at this writing, but I’ll guess that the final design will have a composite structure, maybe painted black or a dark, smoky gray. Notwithstanding the rounded contours of the deckhouse, its presence barely softens the overall businesslike demeanor of the Infiniti 100. After all, a boulder sculpted by a swiftly flowing river may have an equally soft-edge shape, but you still wouldn’t want to cuddle it.