For German studio Focus Yacht Design, form and function is equally as important as luxury and elegance; and that's immediately apparent on board their latest project, the 68m (223') superyacht SOARING. Ahead of what's shaping up to be a busy summer season for the charter yacht, we caught up Christian Schafer, Partner at Focus Yacht Design, to get some insight inside superyacht SOARING.
Delivered by Abeking & Rasmussen last month, SOARING is one of the most exciting additions to the Mediterranean yacht charter fleet so far this year.
When she first hit the water at the yard's Lemwerder facilities, the motor yacht made waves with her sleek exterior design. Penned by Focus Yacht Design, the yacht's exterior strikes the perfect balance between classic lines, an elegant profile and a sporty silhouette.
Ahead of her maiden arrival in the Mediterranean, the yacht's interiors have been unveiled for the first time. Also helmed by Focus, her interiors have been thoughtfully styled according to their use. Her social spaces are rich and classic with an overarching Art Deco theme, while her accommodation is light and refreshing by contrast. Deviations from the norm are evident in her Owner's library, which is located on the upper deck forward where you might expect to find the master suite.
Through this attention to detail, Focus has managed to create an on-board ambience that's warm and inviting, yet luxurious and decadent at the same time. We catch up with Christian Schafer, Partner at Focus Yacht Design, to find out more about what makes SOARING so special.
You've designed both the interior and exterior of SOARING. Your partner Thomas has previously said; "The opportunity to work on both design spheres allows an integrated and holistic approach." Can you tell me a bit more about how you managed to create a harmony between the two?
Originally we started with a concept for the Exterior profile with which we won the Design Pitch for this project. The Client’s imagination was captured by the idea of a classical yacht with a contemporary appearance. The yacht was meant to have an elegant and sportive appeal while maintaining overall classical lines. We have tried to continue this concept into the interior as well.
There are classical aspects and materials which are combined with a modern design vocabulary. For example, the materials: Dominant veneers are very light and very dark in combination and in contrast to each other. These two color schemes meet and interact with each other and are continued throughout the vessel. Where we have a classical wooden paneling, such as in the Beach Club, we have combined it with modern elements such as inserted pieces of strings.
Did the Owners have any specific ideas for design elements on board SOARING?
From the beginning, the Client was convinced by the holistic approach and concept. Changes to the design throughout the project were kept to a minimum. At the same time, the Client was very enthusiastic about the project and was very closely involved in the design process from day one.
One feature which we like very much is the backlit onyx wall in the library, where originally we suggested a very modern detail. The backlit Onyx was a suggestion of the Client and together we went to Italy to find the perfect stone for this idea.
Dominant veneers are very light and very dark in combination and in contrast to each other.
What inspired the interior themes of SOARING?
We concentrated on a reduced scope of different materials. All social areas and all staterooms follow individual variations of an overall scheme. However, this scheme is connected to personal views and perspectives so we are not in the position to disclose any insights on these at the moment.
However, these themes also work without any knowledge of the deeper meaning. You can just enjoy the variation; e.g. the bamboo wood in the cabin, the sea-lily motifs or the cosmic theme of the Main Salon.
All social areas and all staterooms follow individual variations of an overall scheme.
I love the idea of a library room adjoining the master suite. Was this something the Owner wanted to incorporate?
Originally the yacht was planned primarily for private and family use. The initial design briefing was to develop an Owner’s Deck for someone who is interested in music and literature.
There's a lot of interesting curves on this yacht- quite a different design to other yachts you've worked on like Plan B and Odessa II. What inspired the exterior design?
We knew that this Owner wouldn‘t be interested in a yacht that could be mistaken with any other yacht which we see in magazines, marinas and on the horizon. For us, it was important to keep the lines elegant, fluent and harmonic and we needed to avoid any contradictions between outer appearance and inner use.
We knew that this Owner wouldn‘t be interested in a yacht that could be mistaken with any other yacht which we see in magazines.
What's very interesting to me is the forward windows on the hull. Have they been designed to give the illusion of being a single piece of glass?
Curiously enough, these windows were already a part of our very first proposal for Abeking & Rasmussen, which unfortunately didn’t come into realization years ago. The main reason for these windows is the desire to prevent individual and/or rectangular windows which would disturb the continuity of the lines.
On Lurssen's Quattroelle, this type of window design has been described as sugar-scoop. Is this the same style of window design?
A number of yacht designs play with unusual shapes. What's important for us is the connection of the individual windows into one overall shape and the integration into the horizontal lines of the yacht.
What's your favourite space on board SOARING?
The library on the Owner’s Deck is a very special place. On most other yachts, this room would be the Owner’s suite, which positions a room in which peoples' eyes are mostly closed in a space that actually has the best views.
If you want to enjoy this view during the daytime, say, if you're looking for a quiet ambience for relaxation and contemplation, this is one of the nicest places to be.
On most other yachts, this room would be the Owner’s suite, which positions a room in which peoples' eyes are mostly closed in a space that actually has the best views.
Can you tell me a bit about the space on the main deck aft? I can see from renderings there's some kind of glass structure around the dining table- is this a wind deflector?
Obviously, with the Owner’s stateroom on the upper deck aft, the outside deck couldn’t be used for alfresco dining as you might expect to find on comparable yachts. Putting the outside dining on the Main Deck level generated the need for a temporary privacy device, so we integrated this semi-opaque pop-up glass screen.
SOARING is one of the largest interior projects you've worked on. How does it compare and what makes it different to other yachts in your portfolio?
Some think that the individual yachts which a designer works on should be similar, because the designer should look at things in a certain way. In reality, each project differs and evolves through the collaboration with the individual Owner and his particular taste, needs and perspectives.
What inspired you to get into interior design, specifically for yachts?
We find it challenging to plan in such a confined and complicated environment, where space is restricted, technical requirements are crucial and the luxury world of representation and leisure needs to be combined with the world of operation and functionality. This is very exciting and the constant need for improvement leads to new developments and solutions with every new project.
Did you grow up in the yachting community?
Unfortunately not. But we grew up in the yacht- and shipbuilding community for which Bremen is a hotspot.
Would you say you have a signature style as a design studio?
You will certainly see a unique similarity in the different projects by Focus Yacht Design, although the design is always a product of the Owner’s input and the Designer’s interpretation. For us, it's most important that the projects work as an overall theme and that they are balanced, both aesthetically and functionally. And finally, we must love what we do.
What does the future hold for Focus?
We are working on a number of projects that deal with the question of how tomorrow’s clients will use a yacht, which in our opinion differs from the ways we knew from the past. This includes technical developments caused by the need for sustainability as well as developments in the way people like to use spaces and conduct activities. Variability and the preparation for outstanding experiences and events will play an important role.
Curiously enough, these windows were already a part of our very first proposal for Abeking & Rasmussen.
SOARING offers accommodation for up to 12 guests in six cabins. On-board highlights include a large sundeck with a jacuzzi and spa facilities in the beach club, which also includes a treatment room.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.