With over 25 years of experience, and having been a part of the creative development of more than 50 superyacht projects, as well as a frequent collaborator for Royal Huisman projects, interior designer Mark Whiteley was the ideal choice for the interior design of Aquarius. When asked to collaborate with Royal Huisman on this project, Whiteley had a clear idea of what the owners wished to prioritise in the design process:
“These are adventurous owners, committed to serious world cruising and exploration with their family and guests, rather than just the well-trodden Med / Caribbean circuit. They certainly wanted a beautiful yacht but the elements of security, good sea-keeping and comfort unquestionably dominated our thinking,” says Erik Wassen, senior Dykstra designer on Aquarius.
With comfort in mind, the team including Whiteley worked hard to create a relaxed ambience throughout the yacht, from specific furnishings to particular decorations and design features.
"The fabrics and materials were selected to create a calm, clean and relaxed aura, quietly evoking a more modern feeling than traditional classic yacht furnishings. Big, comfortable white sofas and very light surroundings further contribute to this feel. All the furniture is bespoke. The loose furniture was designed in our studio and beautifully made by the Royal Huisman joinery team. There are some contemporary rugs but no fitted carpets. In general, the mahogany floor planks speak for themselves." continued Erik Wassen, senior Dykstra designer on Aquarius.
"In terms of art, photography is the principal medium on this boat, with a very fine series of photographs taken by the owner, as well as some original prints from Beken of Cowes. Aquarius’ owners – as with other owners in recent years – are spending more time on their yachts and see them as more of a home. They bring their own things, whether art or other possessions that they like to have around them and this all adds to the character."
Throughout the process of designing and then decorating the interior of a superyacht, there are always challendges which may affect the process. This sometimes means there are alterations or complete overhauls needed to occur to complete the vision. The dedicated pursuit of a comfortable and relaxed environment inspired Whiteley and his team to strive towards perfection lead to what is today Aquarius.
"There was a slight disconnect between the owners’ suite and the aft deckhouse" the designer shares. "So we worked towards better integration there. At the same time, we made a series of seemingly small changes – such as turning the bed to face aft, providing the bathroom with sliding doors to allow in more light and create an airier feel – and these, cumulatively, gave the area a more relaxed and modern feeling. We undertook similar exercises with the lower salon and the gym. These areas are important ingredients in the owners’ everyday lifestyle so we needed to get the right feel – for example by using fabric rather than painted panels in the lower salon/cinema."
Whiteley claims that he feels a certain affinity to this project thanks to his love of his own 50-year-old ketch. He personally enjoys several aspects of the finished yacht:
"Overall what I like the most about Aquarius is the relaxed feel and the very effective balance between the classic and the contemporary, it really works. I also like the owners’ suite a lot: it’s a fantastic living space," says Whiteley.