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Tim Heywood on the Evolution of Design Classics

The 101-metre Feadship Superyacht Symphony, an evolutionary design with subtle call-backs to classic
The 101-metre Feadship Superyacht Symphony, an evolutionary design with subtle call-backs to classic

The strength of traditional superyacht style stems from the ability to withstand the test of time; however, the ideals of classic style are changing in the face of rapidly advancing technology and ever-varying demands. So, with this in mind, how do you design a truly classic superyacht? We return to our Architecture Series this week with revered designer Tim Heywood to find out what ‘classic’ means today.

With a portfolio of classically styled superyachts with a modern edge behind him - thirteen of which sat proudly in the Top 100 - Tim Heywood walks us through his view on the changing face of design, and where the traditional values of yachting are merging with modern form.

How is the notion of ‘classic’ style changing in yacht design?

"For me, the notion of ‘Classic’ design has changed over the last 40 odd years to become more inclusive and ever more encompassing. It used to be an adjective applied to grand gentlemen’s yachts, such as 'Dona Amélia’ née 'Haida’, but now is applied to many contemporary yachts that are hoped will stand the test of time and not look dated, awkward or contrived, after 20 years on the sea.

So, as every designer wants longevity for his work, the term ‘classic’ is sometimes applied in an effort to convince the observer that the yacht being viewed is worthy of the title. The key essence of a classic yacht, to me, is the strong display of grace and elegance that comes from a controlling hand that understands proportion and function in equal measures."

Where does the hunt for unique custom projects come from?

"The drive for unique projects stems from the client’s desire to create a yacht of distinction that reflects his - or her - style of yachting.

Primarily a vessel for pleasure, a yacht can now perform many functions, from ocean research to sound studios and every facet of an exceptional life in-between, but this multitasking is not new.

Yachts have always reflected their owner's personalities and desires which are always varied and, in the same way, the colour scheme demands the use of more than a can of white paint, remember that back in 1929 ‘Haida’ was all black! The use of different colour finishes to the hull and the superstructure, for me, enhances the graceful lines and adds to a yacht's classic nature, an all-white finish is an opportunity missed."

What would you consider to be classic, or even iconic?

"Iconic contemporary designs of today, whether in a classic style or aggressively modern, will be judged over time, as for whether they warrant the description ‘design classic’. A well conceived, well considered and well-constructed yacht, of an aggressively modern style, may soon be thought of as a design classic and rightly so, but for me, to become a design classic the yacht must exhibit an overriding measure of originality and not be a ‘photocopy’ of another design with a new bow or stern tacked on or military facets rounded off!"

How do draw timeless designs (e.g. Aquila or Plvs Vltra)?

"The creation of a timeless design is a mixture of pure originality and close aesthetic scrutiny, not every yacht can exhibit evidence of this and those that don’t will soon look dated. As a designer, I look to every detail of each design and try to infuse an essence of grace and style that will - in my eyes - look good for the next 100 years!

The varied application of the 'golden mean’ and other acknowledge and established design principles, can reinforce the design in my eyes and hopefully, the eyes of my clients and that is what matters. Whether the 'man on the street quay’ can appreciate the effort invested is questionable, but to the trained and discriminating observer, the effort pays off, allowing him or her to form a valid opinion that can be expressed with honesty.

I respect other designers work but never look for inspiration there. I will never produce a design that looks like a tortured bunch of bananas or a homage to a running shoe, but these things do happen, much to my good humoured amazement!"

With a repertoire of yacht such as Topaz, Ice, Pelorus, Radiant, Quantum Blue and Here Comes The Sun to name a few, Tim Heywood’s view on the evolution of classic style fits his portfolio; a fleet of elegantly styled superyachts with innovative solutions and unique design language to fit the changing demands of the modern owner.

The creation of a timeless design is a mixture of pure originality and close aesthetic scrutiny, not every yacht can exhibit evidence of this and those that don’t will soon look dated. As a designer, I look to every detail of each design and try to infuse an essence of grace and style that will - in my eyes - look good for the next 100 years!
Tim Heywood - Yacht Designer