Rob Wetzels on Design Inspiration Through Challenge

By Ben Roberts

The combined design expertise between Gillian Brown and Rob Wetzels of Wetzels Brown Partners covers 25 years of flawless creation for breath-taking interior design. We spoke with Rob Wetzels to get a closer insight into what challenges the design studio faces when approaching briefs and what inspiration they draw from to complete them.

As designers, what are the biggest challenges you face in regards to the superyacht industry?
The biggest challenge is always meeting face to face with the owners without intermediate filters. We want to design something which suits their lifestyle. To achieve this one needs to understand how they like to live their life. Finding time in an owners’ diary is challenging but we are flexible to help it happen.

How do you draw inspiration for interiors and keep your visions unique?
Inspiration for our work comes from the unique profile of the client. When people ask us to do something, they don’t come to us because they are looking for a certain style - we always deliver a ‘made to measure’ solution for that particular client. Owners don’t come in for a standard look, but for us to create it.

We’ve been quite busy across the year delivering yachts and land projects, but we’re reaching out to new projects. To understand the client is a source of inspiration but we also have our inspiration from our experiences and choosing the right elements to fit the project. Travel is also inspiring because as designers we’re visually orientated, you pick up inspiration from a hotel you stay in, a walk in the park or city life when you travel in the Far East - we don’t go to specific places for inspiration as you’re bombarded with inspiration when you’re on the go.

What makes you unique as a design studio?
The thing that makes us unique is that we don’t sell a design style but we always look within our own vocabulary to find the design solution. Each owner and client is different. We deliver turnkey projects which means we start with the general layout of the project and work our way through the ergonomics and detailing to the styling and art of the project. All the owner needs to do is step on board and sail away.

What changes are we facing and how have you seen a marked change in the design industry?
What we noticed is that the change in the market is that because signing projects has become more difficult. This has resulted in shipyards, naval architects and designers talking with each other more which ultimately creates a better product for the owners.

We make a design made to measure for an owner, a turnkey delivery but realising a project relies on the teamwork within the whole team. The communication of a team heavily contributes to the success of the final result.

What can you tell us about the CNB 43?
This is a project called a ‘gentleman’s yacht’, a really interesting project to work on, to create a really open plan, free living space with an inside to outside total connection. The saloon is a good example because it opens up and gives a good contact with the sea while staying comfortable in the shade. On projects like this it would be nice to have a butler instead of a first steward on board.

CNB have interested parties and getting closer to constructing a boat. At the MYS we were speaking to people and maybe they're getting closer to something.

What new concepts are you introducing?
What we’re working on is a modern take on classic sailing yacht interiors. This project adds freshness without losing quality, personality or seaworthiness. We’re also looking more into yachts for specific environments such as yachts that only cruise in harsh sun environments or cold climates. This so we can better understand what elements are needed to survive in these conditions. What is harder on a yacht? Strong sun or 30 degrees below zero? The sun is hard on paint finishes and maintaining the yacht and you can’t clean an explorer with water in the Arctic.

By Ben Roberts
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