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Behind that super-sleek exterior design, multi-million dollar paint job, and uber-chic interior, it’s a yacht’s functional spaces and crew that keep the cogs of the superyacht fleet moving. So when it comes to designing onboard living spaces, it’s a surprise to many that the crew is rarely consulted. The yacht designer, shipyard and owner are the top decision makers but when it comes to the design of functional areas, that are integral to the smooth-running of life onboard, why not ask those who are living and working aboard the boat, 24/7?

Space, glorious space
When it comes to yacht design, space is the most valuable commodity. Space is needed for living, for aesthetics, for storage, for design, for function and for the sake of space itself; because why would you spend your hard-earned billions on a yacht where you had to be shoulder-to-shoulder with everyone else on it?
From having to store everything from ten different types of soft drink to multiple spare parts for something that may at some point break whilst you’re in the middle of an ocean, and vacuum-packed bags of uniform in every possible size of new crew member, there is always something needing more space. Storage space, usually in the form of bilge space, is great when it’s accessible but not so great when you have to morph your body shape to crawl under a pipe and over a pump just to reach the diet Coke. Well thought-out storage space can really improve the efficiency with which a yacht is run.

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Those home comforts
Opulently detailed and luxurious guest cabins are a wonderful sight to behold, but they also have to withstand Mother Nature’s fickle flicks of waves and weather. Experienced yacht designers understand that their fine features may have to be modified for reasons of safety and functionality, but there are some things that can be easily avoided: one shouldn’t have to rearrange the owner’s collection of Louboutins every time the yacht heels to starboard.
When it comes to the design of the crew cabins, please bear in mind that the average height of a male human being is 170cm. Much as you might imagine a crew to be a team of hard-working dwarfs, many design decisions are often impractical and discriminating of anyone over 4ft 6in. It’s amazing what it can do for morale, and therefore the owner’s overall experience, if one doesn’t bump their head on the bunk above every morning.

Self cleaning…anything?!
Or even, everything?! As lavish as speckled marbled surfaces are, which seem to attract every dust and rust particle in the universe, how about something a bit more maintenance friendly? This problem is two-fold: not only would it be great if we could cut down on the amount of cleaning product required (and limit the impact of certain products on the marine environment) but any reduction in required scrubbing would also be a welcome change. All hail the streak and fingerprint-free materials of the future!

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Access, access, access
No matter how much sensible, logical thought has been put into a yacht design’s there will always be some sort of accessibility issue; something you can either never get to, fix or clean. Access is key, especially for the crew maintaining the yacht on a daily basis. From servicing pumps to cleaning out nooks and crannies, and getting to that vital but annoyingly placed switch – there always seems to be something in the way. Ask any engineer; it’s always appreciated when you don’t have to remove one part of the yacht to get to another!

It’s the little things
It’s the little things that get missed and prevent that elusive perfect design equation from being achieved. There are so many little design flaws throughout a yacht that could be easily fixed and that would, in the long run, save time and result in an improved superyacht experience for everyone. Whether it be the positioning of plugs, drawer and cupboard buttons, or things not fully secured which are left to cause incessant rattling noises; fixing the functionality of that small stuff will alleviate so many daily niggles.

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Green is the new black
In today’s world, everything and everyone should be doing their bit to make lives and activities a little greener. Whilst the superyacht industry will never be the greenest industry around, there is huge scope and potential for new technology and investment to be used when designing and re-designing yachts to improve on their green credentials. From the bigger-picture use of sustainably sourced materials, technical solutions and renewable energy, to the simpler things such as enough space for recycling bins to be installed in the galley. The majority of crew are doing their best with what they’ve got in order to become greener, so try not to make life harder.
It’s time the yachting industry got on board with the green revolution, starting at the drawing board.

The perfect yacht
I expect every owner believes their individual yacht is the pure expression of perfection but, I assure you, unless the crew have been involved in the design/build process, giving their input to these key considerations, it is not.
Crew not only work on the yacht, they live on it. They maintain it on a daily basis and are acutely familiar with every inch of space onboard. For a perfect new build or the most successful refit project, crew should always be involved from the start – they know which bits need more attention when it comes to logistical design and, ultimately, their input will improve the yacht owners’ and charterers’ onboard experience.

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