Kelly Hoppen On Breaking The Mould Of Yacht Interiors

By Paul Joseph

Success and Kelly Hoppen go hand in hand, so it comes as little surprise to learn that the world renowned British designer has taken to yacht interiors like the proverbial duck to water.

Between running a London-based team of 40, who work on a diverse range of projects at home and abroad, she has in recent years embarked on a fruitful partnership with British motoryacht builders Pearl Yachts.

The collaboration has, until now, seen the launch of two yachts – the Pearl 65 and 75 – with the design of a 95 footer already complete. All are distinct from one another – a legacy of her years designing bespoke yacht interiors for private clients – while featuring the East meets West philosophy and neutral colour scheme that are her trademark. In a segment of yacht design that can sometimes lack imagination and vibrancy, her distinctive style offers something uplifting and new.

For Hoppen, it is another addition to a bulging portfolio that includes residential apartments, luxury resorts, private jets, British Airways first class cabins, fabric and jewellery collections, and much more. In her fourth decade as an interior designer, we spoke to her about her experiences in the yachting world.

How did your partnership with Pearl Yachts come about?
I designed private yachts for many, many years, so when Pearl came to me to do a branded Kelly Hoppen yacht, it really appealed. Most yachts you see are all very dark and masculine, and I loved the idea of putting my own touch on one.

The Pearl 65 was an incredible success and with the second one, the Pearl 75, I decided to do it a little differently, changing the colours and other things. I like to call it the Studio Yacht. We’ve just finished designing the 95 foot yacht for Pearl, which is completely different again.

What are the main challenges in designing for a yacht compared with other projects?
For me, designing anything is the same. You use the same part of the brain regardless. The main difference is that with boats, it’s all about planning everything around the fact that everything’s got to be screwed down and storage is incredibly important. It’s true that you’re looking at something in a very different three-dimensional way, but ultimately you’re still using the same part of the brain to design.

How have you found working within the yacht industry itself?
I’m slightly detached from the industry because once I’ve finished the design it’s Pearl that’s going to be selling it and doing the launch. We’ll do all the press, but it’s like me designing for any other brand or licensee. I’ll do the design but they’ll launch it and do everything else.

It’s clearly an industry that suffered in the recession and, in a way, that’s why the 65 and 75 have done so well. They allow people to buy a boat for £3 million, completely done and dusted, as if you were going into a fully designed apartment with everything down to the towels and sheets and accessories already in it.

Would you like to work on larger yachts, say 50 metre plus or perhaps even bigger?
We are already! We’re about to start on another superyacht for Pearl, and we’re doing something even bigger that I can’t talk about for a year and a half, other than to say that it is truly ground-breaking. 

Can I persuade you to at least tell us the size?
You wouldn’t believe it if I told you! It’s beyond your imagination…

By Paul Joseph