Famous Architects and Interior designers known for their beach projects are increasingly taking to the water, proving that they are nothing but “in the sea”. Armed with high-profile yachting commissions, these designers throw cookie-cutter layouts and tired aesthetic metaphors for typical nautical interiors at sea. Instead, they use more graceful flowing floor plans, luxurious furnishings and great art that will make you feel right at home in the most sophisticated urban setting.
The strength of this shift can be felt at the Monaco Boat Show in September, where new designers have brought outsider eyes to the industry. One example in particular is pushing the envelopes: Oceanco recently launched an initiative to reimagine the superyacht from top to bottom, leveraging the forward-thinking Dutch interior design studio, as well as Giles Taylor, former Rolls-Royce design lead to make it happen. While we wait to see, and sail, what they’ll come up with, we’ve rounded up an elite crew of star decorators, many of whom are brand new to aquatic life, who are a genre-changer on the water right now.
Bergmann Design House
The studio launched the luxury yacht arm Njord in 2020 to cater to resident clients who spend more time on the water during the pandemic. “They loved their yachts for a week or two, but the boats didn’t feel right at home when I lived on them for months,” says co-founder and creative director Marie-Soliman Berglund, whose team set out to give the ships a special vibe. Aside from adding decadent details like floors from French flooring provider Oscar Ono and cutting-edge air-purification technology, Njord created taller rooms or their illusion. Main salon 249 feet Eden It features a metallic canvas top and an opening on the floor above. Taken together, the interventions give the space a “sense of height and elegance” which is difficult to achieve in the confines of a ship.
Italy’s Piazza Sanlorenzo recently built on its award-winning aesthetic credentials by recruiting Spanish-born Urquiola for an ongoing collaboration. Featuring a central staircase covered in limestone in bronze, oak steel and pieces from Urquiola’s own furniture collections, SD96 It places a refreshing focus on flowing spaces and open views. “I love working on projects where a client asks you to do something you haven’t done before,” says Urquiola, and notes that “being a novice in the industry helped me suggest my personal way to experience the boat, making sure that the usual comfort of a home is replicated in a smaller space.”
Studio Brian O’Sullivan
Acclaimed for his recent work with Maybourne hotels – including London’s Connaught, Berkeley and Claridge – Irish-born O’Sullivan specializes in luxury yacht interiors that feature a distinctive blend of bespoke pieces, mid-century furniture, coordinated artwork, rich textures and colorful accents. It is 164 feet tall Mosaic and 221 feet icon Impress with such atypical marine furnishings as One Ton Serpegiant-Marble bathtub, glass top coffee table, Vladimir Kagan curved sofa, Pierre Chareau lighting and custom pieces by Apparatus. Currently working on a complete refurbishment of a 230ft yacht and annual updates to icon.
Mikick, a former fashion designer, debuted his interiors at sea crafting items for London property developer Candy Brothers yacht Candy Brothers in 2006, prompting Elizabeth Murdoch to commission Mikick to decorate her 159-foot-tall home. Elizabeth F. after two years. “I designed it like an apartment,” he remembers the ship, which won awards at both the Monaco and Antigua boat shows. “I had almost no built-in furniture, which is crazy.” Today it continues to violate marine standards. Combining classic elegance with playful colours, patterns and textures, the 109.5-foot yacht gave the feel of a bachelorette cushion, and now sets Fritz Hansen’s sheepskin-clad chairs and patterned sofas on a 195-foot sailing yacht alongside contemporary British artwork. Like Bridget Riley.
Yale School of Architecture alumni Eric Clough and Aun Sun Chun — whose projects include a 6,000-square-foot penthouse and more than 150 Christian Louboutin stores — recently completed their first offshore commission, a renovation of the Monte Carlo yacht 105-foot MCY 105 for a Hong Kong client. Chun and Clough chose surprisingly seaworthy fabrics from Loro Piana and Hermès, furniture from Blackman Cruz and Carl Hansen and lighting from Urban Electric Co. Laurent watches.
Foley and Cox
Principal founder Michael Cox and design director Zunilda Madeira bring a keen appreciation for the luxurious details of yacht interiors (thanks in large part to Cox’s decade with Ralph Lauren home brands). For the 152.5-foot vessel for a client who has decorated their homes in Monaco and Austria, the duo combined custom furniture from DeAngelis—including plush upholstered sofas with a depth and softness that defies expectations at sea—with finds from a Paris flea market. They say these signature pieces bring the yacht’s eclectic, assembled patina, reflecting the customer’s personality.
An accomplished showman, Volk has just completed his first inboard yacht, a wooden sailboat for old customers. It combines historical inspiration with quirky contemporary twists. Vessel’s Name halcay, It means “home by the sea” in Hawaiian, which indicates the state of mind of both the clients and the design team. With the Iolani Palace in Honolulu as a starting point, Faulk brought together Europeans and aborigines, creating exciting details such as carved and custom inlaid teak and koa wood doors and embroidered headboards based on a royal Hawaiian wedding quilt.
Known for designing hotels and restaurants from Chicago to Osaka, Bernard first brought its distinctive industrial feel and masculine edge to the sea nearly a decade ago. “Yacht interiors are often more traditional,” she says. “We sought to create a fresh, sporty feel with pale woods and beautiful linens mixed with woven fabrics.” On the just-completed 102-foot Sanlorenzo yacht, marble panes adorn the built-in cupboards while green onyx slabs cover the bathroom walls and front deck bar.