A New Wave of Design for Superyacht Interiors


A New Wave of Design for Superyacht Interiors

Tim Gosling Superyacht Design Interview Emma Coady Tim Gosling is a London-based interior designer at the forefront of superyacht design.

A recent conversation with London- based interior designer Tim Gosling – who works at the frontier of superyacht design – underscores how the marine industry has managed to replicate residential properties with an increasingly superior level of innovation. The coin has flipped, so-to-speak, as residential homes are now aspiring to celebrate superyacht interiors characterized by a fluid style and elegant use of curved lines, luxurious fabrics and organic shapes. The sinuous grace of superyacht interiors is now homogenous with the superstructure of the boat.

Gosling has designed for the most prestigious superyachts in the world and recently worked on the belle-of-the bay “Lady-S” which contains an entire IMAX theatre. He was once the design director for Linely, but left to pursue ‘Gosling’ – his venture into interior design and furniture. It was a natural decision for him to pivot into yacht interiors, a tightrope where only the highly-skilled tread. Eglomise, gilding, inlay, veneers and marquetry and pen-work carved into materials to provide a decorative finish are typical to Goslings signature look. The exceptional level of craftsmanship in his furniture is palpable.

Superyacht Deck Design Eglomise, gilding, inlay, veneers and marquetry and pen-work carved into materials to provide a decorative finish are typical to Goslings signature look.

Embracing Innovation: Breaking The Mold

Astronomical budgets facilitate the most inconceivable designs becoming a reality, allowing designers to experiment and break out of the mold. Superyacht designers embrace innovation and have a different mindset simply because every part of the process is entirely bespoke. The inherent curved structure of the boat requires a degree of reinterpretation at nearly every juncture. Designing with curved lines is a challenge, where unique shapes are born. All traditional elements of a home can be stripped back to allow the crew freedom to move around freely.

Owners of superyachts have a modern spirit and are the vanguard of modernism, daring to tread where others don’t. The UHNWI’s (ultra-high-net-wealth individuals) are not typically interested in showing an ostentatious display of wealth; instead, they want to create something truly unique. They often see the yacht as a new way of living, therefore designing the vessel from scratch is akin to designing a new way of life onboard. Here there is no status-quo – which is liberating. UHNWI’s tend to have an entrepreneurial mindset and following the herd here doesn’t appeal.

Onboard Challenges Inspire Broader Design Shifts

Superyacht design is also an intellectual path, where size, scale and dimension require more profound levels of consideration. Bespoke furniture works harder to suit the scale of the room, rather than compromising the design. Goslings marine collection has successfully made waves in a traditional industry. Although initially conceived for superyachts, clients have requested the furniture for their gardens, swimming pools and spas.

Gosling curates’ bespoke items for superyacht owners and no request is too wild or wacky. Optical illusion and trickery are instrumental when designing yachts due to the obscure and limited space. With an increasing number of young UHNWI’s, most clients are aged between forty and fifty. Gosling comments:

“Most owners are adventure seekers who like to stay fit. They enjoy thrashing around on their toys. One client requested an indoor tennis court below-board fed up of riding his helicopter offshore.”

Gosling explains that mapping out how the boat will be used early is essential, considering the owner’s lifestyle. Beyond matter, the design needs to reflect the owner’s ideology. He worked alongside the F1 team to pioneer carbon-fiber furniture for some of the most beautiful yachts in the world. The carbon molds are in the incubator, and the high temperature and pressure change the molecular structure. The carbon atoms are bonded together into crystals which are aligned parallel to produce the carbon-fibre.

The technical ability with carbon fiber is remarkable; the process is as precise as neurology. The benefits of using carbon fiber include high stiffness, high tensile strength, low weight, high chemical resistance, high-temperature tolerance and low thermal expansion. Gosling trademarks his furniture with a carbon fiber pinstripe and a teak inlay.

Tim Gosling Tub Chair Marine Collection Gosling trademarks his furniture with carbon fiber frames, teak trim and stainless steel inlay as seen on this lounge tub chair from the Gosling’s Marine Collection.

Mr. Gosling finds that the most motivating part of the design process is when a client stands on the boat to admire the result and says, ‘In the next yacht,” he comments further:

“Each time a yacht has completed, I feel emotional, it feels like I have given birth creatively. The design process is addictive. As soon as a project finishes, clients preempt they are going to miss the creative experience, and they ask, ‘What shall we do with the next boat?’”

Cultural Differences Can Dictate Design

Yacht interiors are just as important as the yacht itself. On a voyage, functional design is mission-critical in developing the people and a real sense of camaraderie onboard. Cultural sensitivities dramatically influence the design on the boat. There is a notable difference between how the Northern and Southern hemisphere chooses to spend their leisure time.

For example, historically speaking, Asian superyacht owners have tended to avoid spending as much time outside of the yacht as within. In contrast, Europeans and Americans tend to spend more time outside on deck, exposed to the elements. These are the cultural preferences and traditions that must be carefully considered when designing yacht interiors. Of course, there are no standards and any owner from any part of the world may have very specific visions for every aspect of the vessel.

Glass in Superyacht Design The use of glass in superyacht design provides the crew with visual freedom.

Glass And Light: Key Themes

Exploring the intersection between glass and light is a key theme in yacht design right now. Advances in glass techniques have enabled designers to bend reality to suit the owner’s requirements. Gosling recently represented Boat International, Monaco on their judging panel. One yacht which left an impression on him was a glass panel black on the outside and clear on the inside to enable the owner to walk around the boat stark naked.

Another boat played with the refraction of glass, featuring circular flat windows were designed with a double convex curve to prevent light from the outside, resulting in a deep sense of serenity and calmness on board. These nuances in design can transform the mood of a room. Glass provides a crew with the visual freedom they crave on board. After all, we only experience what we can see. The marine design sphere is an exclusive bubble that will not burst anytime soon.

Modern Yacht Chair Folding Boat Chair The stylish yet simple Director’s Folding Chair from Gosling Marine features premium cushions and a carbon fiber chair frame with teak trim on the arms.

New Meets Old: Carbon Fiber And Teak

The Gosling Marine Collection combines long-standing design standards with modern innovations. Through the use of his trademark white carbon fiber along with the incorporation of traditional teak and stainless steel, he aims to provide the most durable deck furniture on the market. Conventional cabinet making techniques are fused with state-of-the-art engineering to push the limits of carbon fiber’s use. With its unique strength to weight ratio, resistance to corrosion and low maintenance aftercare, carbon fiber has become the ideal material for marine furniture. For those that are interested, Gosling’s collection prices start from $15,300 and the lead time from the deposit is 25 weeks.

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Absolute Navetta 48
Absolute Navetta 48. Photo: Absolute Yachts.

Construction and Design

The 48 shares a certain aesthetic with her bigger siblings. There’s her plumb bow with a fine entry down low, hard chines leading aft and a high foredeck. There are also ample side hull windows but they differ slightly in shape from model to model. Deep side decks flank the cabinhouse in a symmetrical layout and the windhshield has a brow that extends from the flybridge above. Unliker her sisters, the Navetta 48 has a composite support for the cantilevered hardtop that angles aft rather than forward giving her a sportier look but retaining the same big boat appeal. The tall side windows and vertical windshields that are shared by all the models are a Navetta trademark, which gives the line its signature profile.

The construction is all about serious seakeeping abilities. Abosolute’s multidimensional grid system is called ISS (Integrated Structure System) where internal supports are built into a handlaid (not infused) hull. The grid is made at the same time as the hull and deck mold and the bulkheads are glassed into the grid, resulting in a strong, stiff and reasonably quiet build.

On Deck

The Navetta 48 manages to get nearly the same on deck amenities onto her 48-foot frame as the larger models in the line just with slightly smaller proportions. Boarding is via a deep teak-clad swim platform. A door on the port side of the transom opens to a crew cabin with a bed, a head and a large transom window for ambient light. Most American owner-operators will likely use this space for stowage. There is also an option for a washer/dryer combo.

Steps lead from the platform to the cockpit on both sides but those on port are only 13 inches wide while those on starboard are 24 inches wide. Also on starboard are the receptacles for twin shore power cables. Long, solid handrails are attached to the transom at either set of steps to help steady anyone walking up or using the port side deck shower.

At the top of the steps are oversized twin-horned open cleats that add to the perception of this Navetta being a much larger vessel. A solid wood dining table on a single leg rests just ahead of transom seating for four with a liferaft cubby tucked below.

A full staircase (not a ladder) of eight steps leads from here to the flybridge. Because this is not just a ladder, the staircase forms a bulkhead that also holds an array of light and system switches as well as a stereo head at chest level, just above an additional storage cubby.

The entire aft cockpit is protected by the flybridge overhang that extends all the way to the transom and out to the gunwales. Headroom here is 6’ 9” and the full protection means owners may extend their cruising season or just decide to boat year-round.

The hardtop extends out over the sidedecks as well so moving to the bow can be done in relative protection, especially if it’s raining. A teak-covered fuel fill is recessed into an indentation in the deck. If a bit of diesel escapes, it won’t leak overboard or onto the deck, but instead remain contained and therefore easier to clean up.

Three steps lead from the side decks up to the bow where there is a large sunbed. Although the Navetta 48 doesn’t have a separate lounge area like her sisters (in addition to the bed), there are otheruseful features like a stereo remote and cup holders. Also, the center cushion can be removed to allow the hatch below to open and bring air to the forward cabin.

The bow pulpit and the high railings are mounted on a molded bulwark, which serves as a footbrace and adds to the safety when working with the anchor or a mooring. A hatch on port opens into the anchor locker that also holds the windlass remote and a winch handle for the manual override should the winch lose power. A single roller pushes the anchor well forward of the snub bow but there’s a long scuff plate on the stem should the anchor swing back toward the hull during up or down anchoring.

The bow area is perfectly visible from the flybridge helm so the driver can communicate with those working there. Up here, the helm is on the centerline, which will make it easy to line up on a mooring. It’s quite far back with a sprawling sunbed just ahead. Although a winshield angles back over the sunbed, there’s a secondary vertical winshield just ahead of the driver that can be raised or lowered to protect the driver in snotty conditions.

Garmin MFDs flank the angled wheel. The Volvo Penta display, stereo head, VHF radio and cupholder are to the left of the wheel while the engine controls and joystick are to the right. Companion seating is in the form of inboard-facing benches to either side of the helm.

Amidships you’ll find the optional galley module with an electric grill and a sink on top and a small fridge and icemaker in the cabinet below. A transom seat wraps around an ample dining table so entertaining up here will be a breeze. Options on the flybridge include an open top, a canvas Bimini, or a complete hardtop.

Ample Accommodations

Entry to the interior from the cockpit is through a glass door that is five feet wide when fully opened. The aft galley is on the same level as the aft deck so the transition is easy even if your hands are full. The ceramic cooktop is in the corner on an angle just above the separate oven. A single sink faces forward and there’s a row of four smooth and glossy head-height storage cabinets outboard. A full-sized dishwasher can be snugged into the port aft corner and the tall refrigerator, which reaches up to the headliner is in the starboard corner.

Separating the galley and the lounge is a frosted glass panel that opens electrically. It contains an splashes from the sink. Just ahead and two steps up is a J-shaped dinette with a hi/lo fold-out table. Almost at the windshield and to port of the helm is a cabinet with an acrylic top that hides the control panel, which is mounted horizontally. It’s at once in plain sight and hidden. It’s nice not to have to bend down or descend the stairs to get a quick look at what is happening with the systems. Also hidden are two storage drawers below the starboard bench and the pop-up 40-inch TV by the starboard window.

The interior helm is to starboard and farther forward than the one above. The seat is either a slim double or a generous single and has a bolster so you can drive seated or standing. The angled dash is set into an upmarket carbon fiber finish console with twin Garmin 15-inch MFDs and twin A/C vents. Engine controls and the joystick are to the right of the leather-wrapped wheel while the Quick windlass and Bennett trim tab switches are to the left. Controls for the optional Seakeeper gyrostabilizer are up and to the right.

Style and Décor

The décor is a mix of high-gloss light and dark finishes and matte, neutral-colored floors. Plentiful indirect lighting gives the entire interior a soft glow but it’s the use of glass that really leaves an impression. The light brought in from the 108-inch uninterrupted windshield, the port opening window and the pantographic door by the helm is the wow factor that sets the Navetta 48 appart from her competitors.

Sleeping Soundly

The Navetta 48 is offered with three staterooms and two heads plus the optional crew cabin, which will set you back $19,000 if spec’d. Guests will be comfortable in the VIP double cabin aft and to port or the twin cabin to starboard. The two staterooms share a head that also serves as the day head and has a separate shower and liberal use of marble.

The owner’s suite is in the bow with a layout that’s unlike any other in this class. The bed is on a diagonal, angled with the headboard to starboard and the foot toward the door to the ensuite on port. There are side tables and sconces on either side as well as drawer storage below the bed. A vanity desk is positioned just forward of the head compartment and that’s what throws the whole thing off kilter. The layout is asymmetrical so when you come in through the door that’s on the centerline, the windows seem offset and it looks as if the port bow must surely bulge outward. It doesn’t of course, but it’s a most interesting trompe l’oeil that will make you look, and look again.

The master is light and breezy due to 44-inch wide windows with round, 22-inch opening ports for ventilation. The other two cabins also have ample light from four panels of vertical hull windows on either side. The foyer between the cabins benefits from the open space above that lets the light from the windshield pour down.

Sea Trial Test Day

The Navetta’s twin Volvo Penta IPS engines (435-hp D6s) provide plenty of power for 26-28 knots at wide-open-throttle (3600 rpm) and a 20-22-knot cruise. If you slow down to 16 knots and 2800 rpm, you can expect a range of approximately 285 nautical miles, depending on conditions.

Although rated for 14 people, we only had three aboard on test day and about half tankage of both fuel and water so the boat wasn’t weighted down and the ocean was mild with only a 1-2-foot windchop. The semi-displacement hull is surefooted. At speed, we made gradual turns where the boat put her shoulder down and sliced through the water without any skidding or slipping. We made graceful S-turns that weren’t sharp or drastic but rather restrained and even.

In the harbor, the Navetta 48 is simplicity itself due to her joystick drive. The hull was desgined for pod drives from the get-go, so the boat is optimized for this propulsion package and whether at speed or while close quarters maneuvering, Absolute’s focus on easy drivability shows.

Overall Impressions

Absolute Yachts employs around 250 people in its northern Italian yard. The current Navetta lineup includes five models 48-73 feet and although the 48 is the smallest, she certainly holds her own in both features and seakeeping abilities. Best of all, this mini-superyacht can be easily handled by a couple, which saves money and adds flexibility. Owners can pick up and go any time and anywhere they like on what feels like a mini-superyacht.

Specs for Absolute Navetta 48

Length overall 48’ 11”
Beam 15’ 3”
Draft 3’ 5”
Dry weight 40,000 lbs.
Water 140 gallons
Fuel 475 gallons
Engine 2x Volvo Penta IPS 600 D6 435-hp
Price as tested $1,495,000/>

Absolute Navetta 48
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