Exo has been developed in a partnership between Claydon Reeves and Dykstra Naval Architects.

It is a sailing yacht designed to add a new element to the experience of performance cruising. Instead of a hull providing a strong sense of enclosure it instead allows unparalleled views of the external and underwater environments.

We have brought a more organic and natural approach to this project inspired by shapes and forms not usually found in traditional yacht design with its linear form language. The interconnected root structures of large trees seemed like a good starting point as the basis for a yacht. Not only does the long vertical trunk represent the mast, but the root ball forms the hull, providing strength and the support for the vertical structure.

We also considered the skeletal structure of small but strong creatures. In nature it is the exo-skeleton which provides the ‘chassis’ for these organisms. These exo-skeletons do not employ straight lines but instead have twisting and turning curves which imbue the creature with optimal strength – their forms defined by millions of years of evolution.

By setting aside some of the established thinking of past projects, we strived for a new aesthetic that was both attractive and buildable.

All technical and structural elements are integrated into the design so that the typically engineered solutions such as boom, helm stations and spreader bars share a consistent organic aesthetic. The main load bearing elements are constructed from a carbon monocoque space frame, much like that of a modern motorbike, whilst the hull skin are to be developed using lighter construction methods. Even the deck caulking is based upon the radiating growth rings of a tree trunk, which illuminate at night, forming intriguing patterns and effects. The twin helm positions grow out of the bulwarks like tree branches.

The huge glass windows wrap over into the deck and are framed by the carbon fibre ‘chassis’ that is further accentuated by the bold material breakup. The cockpit maintains the organic form language; the sofas providing undulating islands of soft expansive seating and the table forms appear eroded by the sea.

As one moves rearward the decks gently step down, firstly with a concave cut-out and then approaching the stern a convex wall of glass that defines the edge of the aft beach club and saloon.

The concept is perhaps best explored and understood from inside the yacht where one can fully appreciate the implications of the new design approach. The main objective with this yacht was to allow far greater amounts of light into the interior and to provide ground breaking views of the passing environments. The carbon chassis is apparent internally and the organic mullions that separate the massive glass panels imbue the interior with the sensation of being contained within the ribcage of a large aquatic creature. To further emphasise this feeling, the interior architecture of the main saloon suggests being partially separated from the hull structure, giving the impression of a soft cocoon floating within a rigid structure. The seating and furniture has been designed with an integrated philosophy of organic forms and subtle level changes delineate the different areas.

The material pallet is a combination of strong technical carbon fibre and the softness of natural woods, wools and silks bathed in subtle lighting that accentuates the key design elements.