Bannenberg & Rowell on Exceptional Design

By Jenna Mehdi

Proudly waving the flag for British design talent on the global stage, Bannenberg & Rowell Design has dominated the field of superyacht design for two decades. Recently making headlines as Lurssen’s Project Hawaii nears delivery, we thought a catch up with the busy pair to be long overdue.

The son of the late Jon Bannenberg - considered the founding father of modern yacht design - Dickie Bannenberg and his partner Simon Rowell have given life to some of the ocean’s most iconic superyachts, including Feadship’s 70m Joy and Benetti’s 63m Metis, to name just a few. 

The first question on our mind was how the team has adjusted to the perhaps poorly named ‘new normal’ of lockdown. ‘Like many - a new found familiarity with Zoom and several other collaborative platforms. The danger is having too many and something slipping through! Everyone is doing well, some new skills learnt - some software, some musical, some language. And some bad haircuts.’

Bannenberg & Rowell are notably responsible for both the exterior and interior design of Lurssen’s Project Hawaii, which was recently spotted undergoing sea trials and on which details have thus far been very thin on the ground. We couldn’t help but ask the designers for more details on her interiors - to no avail. They did comment that they are ‘very pleased with her exterior’ though, on which the design duo has developed some themes first explored on Feadship’s Joy.  

 The field of superyacht design is globally competitive and constantly evolving, with owner demographic shifting and with it the very landscape of superyachting. We asked Bannenberg and Rowell where they got their inspiration to keep each project innovative, even after so many years in the game.  

‘​I like to think from all around, in quite random ways. It's fun and instructive to mix influences: when we did an interior for an aircraft a while back, we referenced Sean Connery's tailoring, Mad Men and silhouettes inspired by Louis Vuitton luggage.’

It is this synergy of influences and inspiration, we imagine, which makes Bannenberg & Rowell such a notable name in superyachting and beyond, and a top pick for the world’s most prestigious shipyards time and again. Having worked on such a multitude of flagship projects, we asked Dickie if he could pick a favourite. 

‘My father would have said "the next one”,’ he told us. ‘I'll leave that one to him and say "the current one".’

As it is a designer’s vocation to turn an owner’s dream into reality, we were curious to know whether the team has ever had to refuse a request. ‘Not due to our choice. They are the owners we mustn't forget, so it's their prerogative essentially. There are things that couldn't be done after pretty exhaustive investigation. Jellyfish towers and 30 knot armchairs spring to mind....’

As the delivery of Project Hawaii draws nearer, this studio is far from resting on its laurels. For those wondering what lies in store for Bannenberg & Rowell:

‘Another Lurssen new build due for delivery next year and a large 100m + explorer due for delivery in 2022. Two interesting concepts - 43m and 50m - coming in the next few weeks. Oh, and some furniture design.’

"It's fun and instructive to mix influences: when we did an interior for an aircraft a while back, we referenced Sean Connery's tailoring, Mad Men and silhouettes inspired by Louis Vuitton luggage."

Dickie Bannenberg, Bannenberg & Rowell

"It's fun and instructive to mix influences: when we did an interior for an aircraft a while back, we referenced Sean Connery's tailoring, Mad Men and silhouettes inspired by Louis Vuitton luggage."

Dickie Bannenberg, Bannenberg & Rowell
By Jenna Mehdi
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