LIGHT UP MY LIFE: Illumination on board

When it comes to establishing the correct ambience or atmosphere on board a yacht, it is unarguable that onboard illumination can make all of the difference, transforming a vessel’s feel from ‘functional’ to ‘phenomenal’ at the touch of a button.

Here, we speak to Paulo Calado and Guido de Groot from the Dutch studio Guido de Groot Design and go behind the scenes to discover what really goes into lighting up today’s most extraordinary vessels.

By Georgia Tindale
[Van der Valk magazine #2 2023]

Hailing from this highly-experienced superyacht design studio– which has worked on many of Van der Valk’s recent projects, including the 34-metre Blue Jeans, launched this September – Paulo explains that there are many factors which need to be considered when planning the lighting of a superyacht:

“We always make careful calculations to determine whether there is enough light in the room, with all of the lights and fixtures we have proposed. It also depends on materials – if you have a darker interior, the lighting needs to be stronger as it will get absorbed by the dark materials you have used.

“Finally, you also need to take into account how large the windows are and how much natural light enters the space because this will obviously have a huge impact on the lighting. Of course, you also need to assess the situation on both sides: both in daylight and at night!”

As Paulo highlights, any external supplier that the studio works with on the lighting for a superyacht project would be involved as early as possible. “We send the suppliers our ideas for the layout at an early stage, with an indication of the materials used and so on and get their feedback on what we have proposed – this means any changes in the layout can be made as easily and smoothly as possible.”

Notably, as Guido explains, today’s onboard illumination projects are becoming increasingly complex, moving far beyond simple ‘functionality’, into much higher-level concepts.

“Nowadays, designers are finding more and more creative alternatives to the use of normal spotlights, such as the use of strip lights and hidden lighting. With Blue Jeans, we were given the opportunity by the client to go completely wild on the lighting. As a result, we had a ceiling in the main saloon that lit up completely, meaning that you could have a complete light show in the ceiling! On that boat, we also have wooden wall panels in the main salon and master cabin that have hidden light features within them – this means that the panel itself is one big light feature and almost an artwork in its own right.”

Thus with ever-more flexibility and personalisation possible in today’s superyacht lighting projects, this offers an opportunity to create the perfect atmosphere on board the vessel – whatever mood or aesthetic is desired – and can thus hugely heighten the onboard experience of both owners and guests.

As Guido highlights: “With our contemporary projects such as Blue Jeans, we have moved a long way from the simple purpose of illuminating rooms through the lighting. Instead, we can create different moods by lighting up different parts, using dimmable lights, lighting up different areas of a space or even playing with the colour of the light. The options are endless.”