An interview for The Real Riviera
Did you always want to design yachts or superyachts?
I always wanted to be involved with the superyacht industry. From the age of 12 years old when I was admiring the larger units in Marina’s on the French Riviera hoping one day to be able to get on board. A dream that seemed very hard to reach that age. A few years later with a degree from the Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology in the states, I returned to the South of France ready to design my first big project. I was always particularly drawn to the motor yachting design industry. I remember my classmates at University were more into regattas yachts.
What is the most exciting yacht or superyacht (boat) you have designed?
By going to yacht shows, I started to meet people and gathered an interesting network and I came into contact with the owner of a 52-meter Motor Yacht. A former Canadian Coast Guard vessel, which needed to be converted into a yacht explorer.
Following this first contract of refit/conversion, I created my own design office in 2010. This gave me the opportunity to quickly develop and build a strong network on the Cote d’Azur and Monaco, where large foreign units come periodically. Today I already have some beautiful references of M/Y (Motor/Yacht) between 30 and 70 meters and about thirty M/Y projects who have used us in various services successfully.
Do you get the chance to go on the yachts (boats) once they are built?
Most of the time I have the possibility to follow the construction or refit during the winter period until the end which entails checking the technical aspects of the design.
Generally, the projects consider all different aspects of design which includes spending time on board developing good communication with all parties not just the owner and Captain but the yacht management, shipyard, surveyor and crew.
However, most of the time the planning is restrictive, usually with a deadline to respect before the charter summer season.
Finally, it not only visiting yachts and drinking Champagne with the owner!
Are your clients discerning or do they tend to leave the design to you?
For refit/conversions, the ship is already here in real life, there are a basis and technical constraints linked to the existing one, which must be adapted according to the owner’s wishes. To do this, you have to be creative and rigorous to find the solutions that suit everyone (Owner, Captain, Class, competent authorities, etc.).
For new constructions, you start with a clean sheet, only with the basis of a size and/or type of hull, or a navigation program. It is necessary to develop a precise concept, based on the specifications of the project’s interlocutors while respecting the industry’s standards, and using the know-how of the shipyard and its experienced and qualified subcontractors in the luxury industry.
The objective in both cases is to arrive at a highly qualitative, aesthetic, technically relevant and harmonious result from the point of view of the owner.
While keeping in mind that a yacht is made especially for sailing the oceans, which is very different from a house, apartment or even a floating hotel.
What is the most expensive yacht or superyacht (boat)you have designed?
I can’t easily answer this question as the next project coming is important and I have signed an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). However, all yacht and superyacht designs are very expensive! All the details of realization are custom made most of the time, interior or exterior design is in accordance with the constraints of the superyacht! And, size does not matter! The important aspect is to achieve the owner’s dreams.
What would be your dream design/ project?
I am rather specialized on Yacht Motors over 40m or Explorer 50-60m, but I have already worked on a DEEP BLUE submarine transporter project, shortlisted at the Yacht and Aviation Award. I am keen to work on projects of refit or conversion of ships between 40 to 60m this is always a great challenge. It is inspiring to discuss with actual and new clients at the Monaco Yacht Show.
What are the boats generally made of and where are they made? Is steel still the primary material?
Factually the hull of the yacht could be made of wood, composite material or metal.
Generally, the hull of superyacht is in steel and superstructure in aluminium or all in the composite material, the choice depending on project specifications.
Where do you find new clients?
New customers often arrive thanks to the recommendations of the previous ones. Networking in the Riviera is always a plus. And, reviews in social media and magazines like Real Riviera all help.
But factually it’s a long process of working and meeting many contacts from different sectors, not only the yacht industry. I have connections that go back to my early days, travelling in Southern Europe and Monte Carlo helps as it attracts many international clients.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your career?
Opening my own company and facing the challenges of working independently.
What are your plans for the future
I am creating a service entitled ‘Owner Representative’. Designed to help the owner (s) make informed decisions, providing technical advice in the way of a report before purchasing or taking on a ‘refit’ of an existing ship. Taking the stress away from the owner, going from A to B checking the details as well as, if needed seeking new opportunities on the market. This service helps the owner understand the complexity of a yacht in order to make the right decisions. It is not only a question of focusing on the aesthetic and luxurious aspect of purchasing a yacht. We provide a technical and comprehensive view and analysis reports from a simple scope to a comprehensive study. The entire report is delivered in the form of a box for our VIP customer. This then becomes very relevant at the time of the final choice and allows the customer to refer to it at any time and to better understand all the interactions related to these technical, aesthetic, and navigation choices.
Inspiring international lifestyles based on the French Riviera