Superyacht directory, Yachting Pages, has recently spoken to Raphael Laloux, this year’s ShowBoat Design Awards Young Designer of the Year for luxury motor yacht Project Symphony, about where he took inspiration to become a luxury yacht designer and what his top tips are for budding designers.
What made you decide to study transportation design?
This decision goes back to my childhood; my father, an architect, gave me his passion for creation. After developing a strong interest for automobiles and other means of transportation, I quickly affirmed to become a transportation designer; dreaming about the day I would be able to see my creations come alive.
What has been your favourite superyacht to design so far and why?
It is most likely the 250ft Ketch which I designed when I was working with Philippe Briand. This client requested a lot of reflection in light of its numerous confines and the complexity of the Ketch project. It was also the first full custom superyacht I worked on for an owner.
Do you prefer designing motor or sailing yachts and why?
Designing motor and sailing yachts are two very different processes; I appreciate them both just as much. I like the freedom of expression that a motor yacht offers, just like I enjoy the natural grace of a sailing yacht as well as its harmony with the sea.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
I draw inspiration from all the creative fields, graphic design, fashion design and mainly architecture and car design, but also from my observation of nature which is an infinite source of inspiration for me.
If you were to design a superyacht for yourself, what would it be like?
I would design a sailing yacht, with a modern and minimalist design inside and out. It would be in harmony with its surrounding environment and offer natural light in all the living areas thanks to the presence of numerous bay windows.
This year Show Boat Design Awards named you as Young Designer of the Year. Can you tell us more about the competition?
The Young Designer of the Year competition is open to all young designers and naval architects under 25 years old. After having completed the entry form online, I received an email brief and drawing of the hull. I was then required to act as a project manager in a superyacht design studio, meeting the potential client. Based on that, I had to provide an exterior and interior design with a realistic layout. It is important to keep in mind that the result was not just a styling exercise but a practical ‘outline design’. All the designs were then judged by an international team of elite superyacht designers.
Is this the first award you’d applied for?
No, I competed for this award three times. The first time was in 2011 with Stéphane Zache (Young Designer Finalist in 2010); we had to propose our own vision of a futuristic yacht. We answered this with a 75m hybrid; a yacht with prospective concepts, very interesting as the guest cabins are able to be removed, enabling the guests to enjoy the coves.
The second time was in 2013 with the design of Atlantic; I was a finalist. The subject was to answer to a very specific request from the owner, to design a 65m explorer yacht reflecting his passion for sports cars. The result was mega yacht Atlantic, in reference to the Bugatti Atlantic and to the ocean; a yacht that was designed as a sports car, offering innovative living spaces facing the sea.
The third time I entered was this year, where I won the Young Designer of the Year Award for Symphony. The client, a famous classic conductor, asked for a yacht based on a SWATH platform, for him to discover the world with his wife, children and grandchildren. My answer was Symphony which characterised a harmonious combination of elements that respected her surrounding environment. The prevailing feature of the design is an architectural promenade that defines the exterior design and interior layout of the yacht and allows guests to explore all family activities at leisure.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
For now, I would like to find a master who can teach me his knowledge and help me gain experience during the next few years. When I have enough experience I would like to open my own yacht design company.
Do you have any advice for budding superyacht designers?
My advice would be to enter the Show Boat Design Awards, Young Designer of the Year award as it is a great way to show competences in answering specific requests, being realistic and not proposing only “dream boats”. It is also a good opportunity to gain visibility with elite superyacht designers.
What can go wrong and how do you work around that?
Nowadays, yachts are quite similar; the yacht industry does not push us to be creative and is seen as being quite conservative. However, the yacht is an object tailor made for its owner and therefore they should all be unique. I always start a project with a blank page, but before that, I try to guess what the owner would want and how to create a design that perfectly answers his/her expectations and desires.
What are the biggest challenges yacht designers face in your industry?
I think that the biggest challenge we face today is to be able to interpret and answer clients’ desires whilst surprising them with unexpected attentions. This approach aims at designing a unique and tailor-made yacht which transmits the image the client wishes to reflect.