At first glance, it doesn’t look much like a yacht, with its wide, twin hull base and glass blocks rising square above, reminiscent of a skyscraper, glimmering with the water’s reflection all around.
According to Lujac Desautel, shortlisted for the Young Designer of the Year Award for his design ‘GLASS’, great design ‘invites people to consider experiencing the world in a different way; perhaps a way they never imagined,’
In this, he definitely succeeds, asking the eyes to imagine life on a yacht that acts as a mirror to sea and sky, with its wide beam allowing plentiful space and airy, light-filled design. As the mind adjusts away from what we conceive of as ‘yacht-shaped’, it starts to seem like a very nice way to travel.
The brief for the Showboats Design Award, run by Boat International, was to design a world-travelling yacht for a renowned composer, based on the SWATH design. SWATH, for those unfamiliar, stands for Small Water-Plane Area Twin Hull.
The unusually beamy SWATH design opens up large living spaces not available in a monohull yacht, and Desautel has capitalized on this in his imagining of a yacht free of ‘narrow and cluttered spaces.’
He says, ‘A homage to the skyscraper and a canvas to the sea, GLASS is organised vertically by three cubic volumes by literally stacking each floor like Lego blocks. Effectively, each floor becomes entirely dedicated to maximizing the amount of living space for guest and crew on board’.
Designed as a family yacht, Desautel has aimed for spaces where a family can enjoy casual surroundings with a beachside cottage feel, while at the same time entertaining guests in a refined space offering spectacular views out of floor to ceiling windows on all decks.
The deck space is also unusual, with a wide staircase lowering to gently to the water, inspired by the stairs of a Mayan temple. The top of the yacht allows for a very generous sundeck and helipad, while the design also features also a large indoor pool.
This design doesn’t only look different, but it would feel different too.
Up until recently, SWATHs were only used in military and oil rig design, but their stability and sea-going characteristics have begun to attract attention in the superyacht market.
As Stability Yachts explains, ‘The hull form reduces the upward forces on the vessel as the wave passes through…By minimizing hull volume in the sea’s surface where wave energy is located, the vessel becomes very stable, even in high seas and at high speeds.’
There are obvious benefits other than the spacious interior this platform affords, as the owners of SWATH motoryacht Silver Cloud attest. As described in a Boat International article of 2009, before coming across the SWATH design, the owners were considering ending their yachting adventure due to seasickness. They happily report that since launch, Silver Cloud has travelled many thousands of miles in all kinds of weather conditions.
There are other SWATH projects underway as well, such as the 62 m that affords the interior volume of an 80 m, currently being developed by Abeking and Rasmussen and Reymond Langton Design.
The blocky design of the SWATH platform will not be for everyone, certainly, and there will be some limitations, such as the berthing difficulties that a double-beam yacht will no doubt face- as any catamaran owner will tell you.
However, looking at the images of Desautel’s GLASS at anchor, with sea reflecting all around its glass facades, you can see that this is a yacht made for beautiful anchorages and open sea, not ports.
And with seasickness largely relegated to their monhull counterparts, you can see why SWATH yachts are beginning to gain traction, and also why young designers like Desautel have so much to offer in re-creating the way we imagine yachts should look like. As the designer comments, 'GLASS is a response to its context and environment, no longer a foreign object to the water but a physical mirror...an ever-changing canvas for reflection.
About the designer:
My name is Lujac Desautel. I am an architecture student at California College of the Arts, School of Architecture.
I was born and raised in Cannon Beach, Oregon where life was simple, nature was my play ground, and the ocean was a constant companion.
Being a curious observer of life around me, Legos and the natural landscape offered subtle insights into how I began to understand the soul of design.
Like a fishing boat that embodies its specific function- to catch and store fish efficiently, or the single Lego piece that can be connected a thousand different ways, the simplicity of a design is not just the absence of clutter, but how a design can become a holistic embodiment of its intended purpose.
I believe great design offers an authentic beauty that invites people to consider experiencing the world in a different way; perhaps a way they never imagined.