Enlightened Design: Satori

Satori, from Heesen Yachts, eschews extravagance in favor of finesse.

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In Zen Buddhism, the ultimate spiritual goal is satori. Loosely translated, it's an experience of enlightenment; without satori, there can be no Zen. Rather than resulting from a vision, an action or some other physical experience, however, satori suddenly comes upon a believer. It’s often likened to an intellectual awakening, a realization of the deep meaning behind a person’s role in the universe.

While we won't try to make a connection between spiritual enlightenment and yacht ownership, the 164-foot Heesen Satori does, in an interesting way, echo that Zen tenet. Satori shows that luxury need not be achieved through overt action or ostentation. In fact, her design philosophy holds that luxury is far more successfully achieved when individual elements that are alternately simple and sophisticated come together as a whole.

Simplicity and sophistication may seem like contradictory concepts, and typically they are. But not in this case. They were the strongest impressions that interior designer Rémi Tessier of Rémi Tessier Design had upon meeting the owner. While the two had not previously worked together, the owner had seen some of the interiors that Tessier had created for both sailing yachts and motoryachts. He was attracted to the materials and tones that Tessier chose for those projects. “My inspiration always comes from the nature and the personality of the client,” Tessier says. “I developed for him a personal, exclusive custom interior with a mix between purity, elegance and sophistication in an overall warm, casual atmosphere.”

Everywhere you look aboard Satori, the scene is serene, thanks to an abundance of natural colors. The designer employed wenge, spruce and ebony, sometimes as bleached panels, and other times as trim so they wouldn't be more prominent than the cream-colored suede, white leathers and other tones and textures. The highly sophisticated palladium leaf (think gold leaf, except using the silvery-white rare metal instead) and custom glasswork call some attention to themselves but also contribute to making the rooms as a whole feel a particular way.

A good example is the master suite. Forward on the main deck, it contains low furnishings, like other areas aboard, to emphasize the sense of space. To enhance this feeling, the owner and Tessier selected polished steel, palladium leaf and mirrored panels to reflect the sunlight streaming in through the windows. The builder says the materials posed a challenge, but to see the result, you’d never know. In combination with the natural tones of the rest of the room’s décor, they create a soothing, sensory experience.

As sophisticated as the decorative palette is, the open plan of the master suite brings back Satori's casual nature. The arrangement is quite a change from Heesen's other deliveries — and most other builders' megayachts, whether custom or not. Rather than have the en suite bath, study and sleeping area as individual rooms, they're all visible to one another. A 46-inch TV acts as a partial partition between the stateroom and bath, rising from cabinetry. Concealed sliding doors take care of the rest.

Another area where Satori's dual personality shines is the main salon. It's divided into three distinct zones. Directly inside the afterdeck doors is a chic, onyx-top bar, backlit with LEDs that change color to create different moods. It's also lit from underneath, creating an optical illusion that it floats in place. (On a related side note, lighting is a key element aboard Satori. All lighting is either recessed, so that no bulbs are visible, or it gradually changes color to set the atmosphere.) A circular dining area comes next, rather than the traditional living-room-like area, which is the farthest forward of the three zones. But just because the dining area looks like a dining area doesn't mean it is. To suit the owner's desire for more lounging and relaxing space, especially given the proximity of the bar, the table is adjustable, and lowers to become a large coffee table. When high style and privacy are in order, custom chiseled and silvered glass partitions, created by French glass artist Bernard Pictet, can slide into position around the table and chairs. They complement the palladium-leaf overhead.

Similarly transformed from simple to sophisticated is the skylounge. As a customary upper salon, it features a circular coffee table accompanied by a large C-shape settee custom designed by Tessier. To more readily switch to lounge mode, the leather-clad settee splits into three individual ones, which can be repositioned in a variety of ways. Guests can take in the views through the sole-to-overhead windows aft and to each side, or they can face the onyx-top bar forward. Just like the bar on the main deck, the onyx is additionally backlit with LEDs that change color, making the room more of a mod floating club. Curved ebony screens slide quietly across the full-height windows when the occupants want privacy. When moved into place, they strike a strong contrast against interspersed palladium-leaf panels. A little extra visual stimulation comes courtesy of a magic mirror television. Only when the screen is on do you realize the television is housed behind a reflective wall surface, a treatment that’s increasingly popular on many megayachts these days.

Even with what Tessier terms as "not one or two particular examples, but one thousand details that have been pushed forward" by the owner, Satori retains elements created by Heesen. The yacht is the first launch in Heesen's 50-meter semidisplacement series. The yard reports that she is capable of a top speed of 24-knots, making her among the fastest yachts in her size range. Take a look at the specifications of yachts with the same overall length and similar tonnage, and you'll note that several yachts featuring the same all-aluminum construction are a few knots slower. Only composite yachts akin to Satori are achieving this performance.

Heesen's design work is also evident in the nearly 754-square-foot sun deck. A virtual beach club suspended above the sea, it has a Jacuzzi tub forward (though custom designed to sit lower, since the owner didn't want its edges interrupting the sleek profile of Satori), with plentiful sun pads around it. More sunning space is fully aft, purposely occupying nearly the entire beam. Alfresco dining and cocktails can be enjoyed in the shade of the radar arch, with a convenient cooking area for the crew.

Even with his captain, Mark Lacey, serving as his on-site project manager, “the owner visited the yard often and was very much involved in the project,” explains Fabio Ermetto, Heesen’s sales and marketing director. Whether through personal meetings or information conveyed by Lacey, the owner held his standards very high. “In the construction of this yacht,” Lacey said, “there has been emphatically no place for the response ‘this is not possible,’ and we have approached the entire build with this inspiration in mind.” Lacey credits the design and build teams for working extremely hard to fulfill each requirement, and there were plenty. Ermetto agrees: “There were a lot of changes, some major, requested by the owner during construction, where the shipyard always managed to give a positive answer.”

Having Satori delivered on time surely gave a sense of satisfaction to the owner and the yard. But so too did receipt of the prestigious Prix du Design award at the Monaco Yacht Show in September. It's presented each year to a yacht deemed to be the most innovative and distinguished. Considering that nearly 40 new yachts, motor and sail, debuted alongside Satori at the show, it was an impressive achievement.

LOA: 163'4"
Beam: 29'5"
Draft: 8'7"
Displ.: 300 tons (half-load)
Fuel: 18,122 gal. (approx.)
Water: 4,280 gal. (approx.)
Construction: Aluminum
Design: Van Oossanen and Associates, Omega Architects, Heesen Yachts
Interior Design: Rémi Tessier Design
Generators: 2 x 99 kW Kilo-Pak
Bow Thruster: HRP
Engines: 2 x 3,650 hp MTU 16V 4000 M90 diesels
Speed: 24 knots max, 21 knots cruise
Range: 3,200 miles at 12 knots
Price: Upon request
Heesen Yachts, +31 (0)412 66 55 44; www.heesenyachts.nl