The name Jon Bannenberg rings bells all over the world.
For decades, he was The Man when it came to designing mega-yachts. His client list, which included Larry Ellison, Malcolm Forbes and Adnan Khashoggi, among others, was almost as glamorous as some of his nearly 200 yacht projects (Carinthia V and Carinthia VI, and Limitless, to name a few.) Evan K. Marshall, one of the most prominent yacht designers of today, recalls the impact Bannenberg had on his own career: “I can very clearly recall my first encounter with Jon Bannenberg.
It was in the late ’80s, and I was working as a designer at Sparkman & Stephens. An issue of Yachting magazine arrived with one of Jon’s early Feadship projects featured.
I remember all of us looking at it around my design table, and most of the comments from my colleagues were, ‘This is just too bizarre to be considered a boat!’ But for myself, I thought it was one of the most exciting designs and daring designs I’d seen, and I knew right then and there I needed to leave S&S and head to Europe to pursue my ongoing design-career development.”
Bannenberg himself was somewhat less impressed with, well, us. In response to Yachting once referring to him as a “stylist,” he penned this letter to the editor:
“Either one is a designer or not. The word ‘stylist’ to me conjures up some kind of flimsy tweaking of a structure, whereas quite the opposite is true, at least in our own case. … That is a title I gratefully concede to Vidal Sassoon.”
You may consider this article our mea culpa.
With his unique eye for form and detail, Bannenberg changed the mega-yacht world and became an icon in the process. Indeed, the industry itself owes him a debt.