The sophisticated Dutch business magazine “Quote”, recently interviewed award winning yacht designer Guido de Groot. This article explores transformations in yacht design, Guido de Groot’s journey as a designer, the importance of timeless designs, and challenges in yacht design related to space constraints and functional requirements.
Award-winning yacht designer Guido de Groot: ‘A yacht is always too small, no matter what you do’
De Groot started his career at the drawing board of a car manufacturer and worked seven years for Citroën. Why did he exchange asphalt for the open sea? ‘Pure coincidence. While on vacation, I met the owner of one of the Feadship shipyards.’
“When I started 25 years ago, the superyacht industry was much more conservative. At that time, customers didn’t quickly opt for a bold design because it would be harder to sell second-hand,” says award-winning designer Guido de Groot (58), who is based in Leiden.
Please click here to read the Dutch article.
De Groot began his career at the drawing board of a car manufacturer and worked seven years for Citroën. Why did he exchange asphalt for the open sea? “Pure coincidence. While on vacation, I met the owner of one of the Feadship shipyards, Bieb de Vries. He invited me to come over to Aalsmeer,” De Groot recalls. Without knowledge of the superyacht industry, the designer started sketching. “I started drawing, and every time I had something, I would call Bieb to show him my drawings. It grew from there, to the point where he asked if I wanted to design a 48-meter-long yacht they wanted to build on speculation.” De Groot quit his job at the French car manufacturer and hit the road with a portfolio full of superyacht sketches. “I had quit my job but didn’t know where to find clients right away, so I went to boat shows. That’s where I met Dick Mulder. I showed him my drawings, and Mulder became my first client.”
Large windows: ‘If you want to know the weather, you have to go outside’
A design must be timeless, the designer states: ‘I once designed a yacht for a private client, and that project was dormant for eleven years. After eleven years, the client returned because he still wanted to have the yacht built. The exact same design. In all those years, he hadn’t seen anything that still looked so good after eleven years. And it should still do so twenty years later,’ concludes the Leiden designer. In addition to pools and jacuzzis, large windows are a significant change for yacht designers. ‘There are boats with unappealing window designs. Focused on the present, which we simply don’t use in modern aesthetics,’ points out De Groot on the latest trend. ‘I find it terrible, it only works for now; in ten years, everyone will wonder how you could have found something like that beautiful. Large windows are always possible, but then we make them beautiful.’
The window designs are a design development that was not discussed two decades ago. ‘Renowned designers used to say at that time: if you want to know the weather, you have to go outside,’ De Groot reflects. What else has changed? ‘The amount of toys on board and the way everything is concealed in the garage, because owners no longer want a jetski or tender lying on deck,’ says De Groot.
When we start at 30 meters, and we finish designing, the ship is 35 meters.
De Groot collaborates extensively with both Italian and Dutch shipyards. ‘In Italy, they are quite innovative. A lot is built in series, and the culture there is more like you get tired of your boat after three years and want to move on to the next yacht, with new features that must be included. The sales must continue; there’s more of a marketing aspect behind it. There’s always a range of 15, 18, 23, and 30 meters so that the customer stays with that shipyard throughout their entire life,’ explains De Groot. Regardless of the size of a yacht, every designer ends up running out of space. ‘A yacht is always too small, no matter what you do, no matter how long it is. Everyone wants space, but there also needs to be a sizable engine room, and space for the tender and jetskis. When we start at 30 meters, and we finish designing, the ship is 35 meters,’ De Groot quips with a seriousness.
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