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Yacht design goes way beyond striking hull lines and dazzling paint schemes. Inside, each project is a bespoke and built-to-order ecosystem that’s out of sight and often out of bounds for many.
In this article, we’re in England to explore two very different interiors designed for two very different sea explorers that are currently under construction.
We all know that sea explorers are synonymous with unrestricted global cruising and absolute safety, even in the harshest ocean conditions. But just as importantly, each sea explorer has a custom-designed interior that’s comfortable, luxurious, and makes remote cruising in far-off destinations possible.
When it comes to yacht interior design, we know that each vessel is as unique as each of its owners. For this reason, the shipyard works with various high-profile design studios from all over the world.
For projects started on speculation, Damen has the difficult task of designing an interior that will appeal to a wide variety of owners.
They started at the beginning, obviously. But I think what they have to try and do is establish a brief with the shipyard and try to establish the style and direction they want to go in. They worked with the Sea Explorer team on what their expectations were, and they gave them some options on which styles and directions we could go with. And they had our preferred style that they wanted to work with, and luckily, that was the style they went with.
It’s very important that the interior isn’t too threatening to everybody. they didn’t want to intimidate people or make it feel like an interior that people didn’t want to spend time in. Yeah, we’re going to spend a lot of time on this yacht. We wanted it to be a friendly and cozy environment, so it had to be warm but also functional.
H2 Design was very aware of the importance of keeping it as functional as possible. We have the benefit of having done quite a few explorers, everything from starting with Ulysses.
H2 Design is really learning from these clients and what they’re looking for. What they want is multi-functionality, universality, to be able to modify the spaces, and to have more than one functionality in each room. You have your breakfast and either, whereas explorers have a completely different timetable, and they’re very aware of and really think hard about what they’re going to do during the day. And you need to create an interior that can adapt to what they want.
For instance, the forward observation lounge is a good example of an area that has three or four different uses. It starts out as a briefing room for the morning before the heli-ski, or if they’re going on a trip, where they have a guide who wants to explain to them where they’re going. So you can use that. Then it can be used as a media room for cinemas or whatever later on. And it’s also an observation layout, so it’s at the front of the yacht, where they’re going. It’s cold weather, so they’re indoors, but they’ve got a beautiful view as to where they’re going. So yeah, that’s three different ideas already. And plus, it’s a regular lounge to use as well. Each space really has to think hard about the multi-functionality of each room.
I would think the current design, I mean, I don’t know if you agree, but I would say it’s probably more towards a cooler climate-type interior. I think we were thinking cooler. And I think with the second hull, I think that’s going to be an interesting challenge. I think we’ll probably look more at that as well as how we can make an interior that’s maybe comfortable in both environments.
In addition to this SX60, Damen Yachting also has a second SeaXplorer in build, the SX-58, which will feature a custom-designed interior by Design Unlimited. To understand how this project came to be and for a sneak preview of the interior, we travel south to Ferum to meet with Mark and Sophie, who work closely with the yacht’s owner on the design.
The design brief was defined around exploring, but exploring in a slightly more sociable way rather than necessarily going to the polar regions. It was much more based around the owner wanting to entertain, but in different parts of the world. It wasn’t just your stereotypical explorer yacht. It was a different way of using that platform that worked for this particular owner.
The vibe that we went for was based on an actual film called ‘Fitzcarraldo,’ where a boat was going up the Amazonas. That sort of started leading to the theme for the boat. It’s just very different.
You don’t always get these sorts of briefs. And when a client comes to you with this very individual approach, it sets a new challenge, if you like. The SX-58 was quite a good platform for this because it gave us the spaces that we needed to have volume. Although it’s 58 meters, it was a big tonnage. So we had plenty of volume inside and lots of different areas to use. And I think the important thing about the layout is that there are different areas that you can live in. So if you’re on the boat for a longer period of time, you can make your own space. You can get away from people or be very sociable. It’s sort of a little bit left up to you.
The layout was defined when we got it, but we had some flexibility within it. A typical example of that was at the beach club. The beach club draws in lots of different inspirations, and it’s quite eclectic and very heavy on textures. We’ve got bamboo walls with really rough and quite organic wood that have been painted.
It’s almost like you’ve been walking along the beach, collecting all these different items, and starting to use the materials as inspiration. And that kind of fed the whole space. Again, we’ve got all these amazing outdoor fabrics, which are as if they’re indoor fabrics—beautiful velvets, textures, and embroidery.
It’s a very indoor-outdoor living space in that sense because it’s as luxurious as if you’re indoors, but it’s an outdoor space connected to the water. There’s this beautiful balcony that opens up with chairs that actually come out of the side of the boat. So it’s quite a diverse space that can be used in different ways.
Basically, we took a lot from the film in terms of textures, colors, patterns, and the actual connection with nature as well. For example, in the Fitzcarraldo Lounge, we’ve got the actual rug based on the film. Carved into the carpet is the boat sailing down the river, which is quite special.
The Fitzcarraldo Lounge spills out onto the exterior deck, and we’ve got this boat bar, which again looks like it’s kind of a beaten-up old boat that you found on the shores and has been given a new lease of life. Basically, again, heavy on the textures. We’ve got beautiful velvets in the space and leathers. It’s quite an unusual combination, and you might not associate these materials with anything outside. Or, again, we’ve used outdoor materials inside. It creates quite a dynamic combination.
For an explorer boat, it doesn’t necessarily have to go to extreme climates. I think there’s a lot. You can follow either warm or cold. It’s purely up to the choice of the owner. With this boat, and this is more centered around probably following the warmer climates and going to all the owner’s favorite places,. And I think it’s just a different way of using the Explorer badge, if you like, which I think is really interesting.
I’ve learned what the sea explorer life is all about, and I’ve come to realize that ocean exploration is what you make it. With the right platform to take you where you want to go, it’s the people you surround yourself with that make any voyage a true adventure. Life is about exploring, and what better way to do that than as a sea explorer?