Yacht interior design

By Ian Desmond

Looking at the unique challenges of interior design for yachts and why it is so different to land-locked property.

On-trend coloured stainless steel is now inspiring interior designers all over the world. New and exciting colour choices, often created as a result of the PVD (physical vapour deposition) process are guaranteed to make all kinds of buildings including retail outlets, restaurants, malls and now, increasingly, luxury yachts stand out.

Until the late 1990s only shades of gold coloured stainless steel were really possible offering a very limited choice for designing interiors. Over the last few decades the colour palette of steel has expanded to include black, green and rose colours. But with technology updating all the time the range has become even more remarkable and exciting with possibilities including electric blue, purples, copper, brass and bronze. The future seems to definitely be somewhere over the rainbow, with plans for up to 100 new colours over the next five years.

Yachts present a unique design challenge where the selection of colours is very important. Unlike land-based structures, yachts are always moving on the sea. The light issues are therefore different, the sun moves round the sky and your yacht. Some colours which look alright in port start to turn grimmer rather than glimmer as you get to sea and white shades can give off a strong glare. To complicate matters even more, the shifting spaces of even the largest yacht fee confined and limited unless the right design and light trickery is employed.

Whereas historically the trend has been for ‘floating palaces’ to exude the idea of high end sophistication, now tastes are becoming different and more individual. Designers, working with clients are coming up with their own take on luxury, according to Boat International, which means they are keen to try out new colours on offer. Even metallic finishes have shifted from the sometimes naff gold leaf to palladium and silver with nickel often more popular than gold or brass. Now luxury interior palettes can include more variety such as silver and shimmering champagne as well as maybe a bronze or metallic blue.

Yacht interior by Adam Lay Studio

Yacht interior by Adam Lay Studio

Ceilings in yachts can be as low as seven feet and reflective materials used well can make them expand or at least look like it. This means there are certain principles in yacht interior design which always work. This includes texture, detail and dark colours on the overheads which give a illusion of depth while light shiny and gloss finishes mean you can see exactly where the true lines of a roof or wall end. Like a cathedral ceiling, reflections created from certain materials will lead to a feeling of infinity.

Yacht saloon interior Adam Lay studio

Yacht saloon interior Adam Lay studio

While the colours are becoming dazzling different the surfaces are becoming almost indestructible thanks to advanced coating processes for creating a super-hard coating of DLC or ADLC (diamond like carbon). Originally intended as functional coatings to reduce friction and wear in highly stressed components in motor sport engines, their uses for high end interiors and luxury goods is boundless. Examples include, kitchen and bathroom fittings, indoor and outdoor trims, door hardware, switch surrounds and signs.The ultra thin coatings preserve the coated part. Brushed surfaces keep the structure and shimmering polished surfaces keep their glint. The hardness and durability make them perfect for interiors where there will be a reasonably large volume of people. Coating design features can offer scratch resistance, wear and corrosion resistance, non-tarnish, as well as being hypoallergenic. Even during the rigours of seafaring and passenger disembarkation and other wear and tear, the interiors will stay fresh looking for years to come.

Anti-fingerprint coatings are also at the cutting edge of PVD technology. These can be used on metal sheets and profiles, thus eliminating the obvious effects that result when people touch surfaces in public areas, which is another plus to using coloured stainless steel.

Another advantage is that parts of up to six metres in size are available which results in less gaps in the joining and a more continuous feel which looks like true craftsmanship and a yacht interior design job done well.