For Dutch design studio Vripack, inspiration is all around; from a three-jointed bird’s wing to the powerful thrust of a shark’s tail. When the studio set about designing its latest concept, the 66m fossil-free Futura, the focus was to capture wildlife’s innate ability to freely propel through air and water.
“That’s the beauty of naval architecture,” says co-creative director Marnix Hoekstra. “First and foremost, you should mimic nature in the sense that you use as little energy as possible when crossing through the waves. We were driven by that goal from the outset.”
With sustainability at the fore, Futura is slender, efficient and supremely sleek – just a third of the height of a comparable 66m yacht. Her flowing, curvaceous lines denote an elegant femininity that draws from a collection of shapes found in nature. An aerial view of the cocoon-like superstructure reveals a streamlined bow and a rounded middle, like the silhouette of a whale. Made out of glass, the superstructure is also exceptionally lightweight thanks to Vripack’s engineering ingenuity that uses rhombus-shaped framing. The result is a cross-hatched diamond effect, much like fish scales.
“The superstructure, with its egg shape sliced onto a beautiful slender hull, is a concept that has been maturing in our minds for over a decade. Used with a biometric way of structuring, the result is lighter than traditional shipbuilding methods and something that is aesthetically beautiful, too,” says Hoekstra. “Additionally, the diamond shape has always been used by luxury brands, such as Louis Vuitton and Dior, so people subconsciously associate it with prestige.”
Organic shapes continue throughout the ergonomic flow of the interior. Designed as a ‘split and merge’ concept, Futura moves away from a traditional deck setup and uses human interaction as its source of inspiration. The result is a loft style, split mezzanine configuration that intertwines and interconnects – outside as well as in, upstairs as well as down, all through diagonal side-lines. And of course, the large expanse of glass used throughout introduces Vripack’s signature ‘shadow versus light’ aspect of interior design.
Modular furniture means each space is versatile and adaptable. An enormous 30-person dining table makes a bold invite to entertain, as does a DJ booth setup in the upper deck observation area, while a helipad, large shapely swimming pool and whirlpool tick all the boxes.
“The statement piece is a big crystal palace of glass, which is set neatly on top of the hull so you can see everything on the boat,” explains co-creative director Bart Bouwhuis. “In practice, this means that everybody on Futura can be doing their own thing, but you’ve still got this consciousness of where your family and friends are,” and because it was designed using virtual reality, adds Hoekstra, “we were able to combine an interior that is without compromise for the owner blended with an exterior that focuses on sustainability.”
Capable of holding 100,000 litres of fuel, Futura is an electric/diesel hybrid with a difference. Designed to run solely on ‘blue diesel’ if desired – a type of Finnish biofuel made from waste food currently being used in the trucking industry – it also possesses revolutionary bio-based batteries made from salt, sand, water and plants. Charged by an enormous kite on an electric winch that can be released at the touch of a button (an innovative means of harvesting energy formulated by Vripack in-house), the battery bank itself is 100% biodegradable.
“What Futura offers owners is choice,” says Hoekstra. “By approaching sustainability as a design challenge, we’re not waiting for owners to request this technology, we’re presenting them with a concept based on sustainable solutions that currently exist. The answers are out there, the supply is out there, owners just need to want it.”
With a portfolio that now represents over 7000 designs, Vripack has been able to evolve its processes to be as efficient and as effective as possible.