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28 November 2014

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SYD SuperyachtDesign
The Superyacht Group

Design Debate - Q12

Most successful young yacht designers who choose to branch out on their own have served an apprenticeship period with the top design studios. Even Andrew Winch, Terry Disdale and Tim Heywood launched their careers with Jon Bannenberg. In turn, designers such as Michael Leach, Peder Eidsgaard, James Claydon and Mike Reeves, Pascale Reymond and Andrew Langton, started out under the auspices of Terry Disdale, Andrew Winch, Donald Starkey or Redman Whiteley Dixon.
1. What are the main lessons to be learnt from working for an established design studio?
2. Is such experience an essential prerequisite to success as an independent designer?
3. How can young talent be encouraged to remain with a company?
4. What other options are open to designers looking to enter the field of yacht design?


Category: Yachtbuilding & Design

No photograph available

Misha Merzliakov
Misha Merzliakov Yacht Design
Founder

What are the main lessons to be learnt from working for an established yacht design studio?
In my opinion it’s the grasp of the entire design spiral. No two projects are the same and from client meetings through to launch there is a vast amount that can be learnt. It is well known that the ability to listen is one of the best attributes a designer can have. I have found this to be absolutely paramount throughout the design phase. The client and a good brief are also fundamental to a successful design. However, you learn that there are many people involved in the transformation of a concept into reality. Another lesson I have learnt over the years is knowing when to put your hand up to get ‘time on the floor’, in order to see how and why things are done. Finally, passion; when working with an established studio, this one human element hits you in the face. When you witness this attribute in a great designer, it seems like anything is possible. It’s one of the best things you can experience in your formative years.

Is such experience an essential prerequisite to success as an independent designer?
I would say yes. How long one requires to succeed depends on how fast you can learn. At the end of the day, you are always learning even when you are out on your own, as a successful yacht designer once told me. Your own personal attributes will ultimately decide your success, from your personal drive and capabilities, to how hard you are willing to work towards success as an independent designer.

How can young talent be encouraged to remain with a company?
Try to understand why we become designers in the yacht industry: because we are creative people who love life on the water, keen to put pen to paper and constantly looking to evolve ideas. Let your staff take ownership of what they design, not from a signature point of view, but more with respect to accountability. Will it work? It is functional? Does it add value to the project, and so on? Peer-to-peer reviewing and brainstorming can be fun, but more importantly productive. Employers should cultivate such enthusiasm in an organisation. Foster innovation both in terms of design and process improvement within the organisation. Soon you will have created a great place to work, which will draw people in rather than lose people.

What other options are open to designers looking to enter the field of yacht design?
It is definitely not easy, but if passion drives you then you will find a way. Yacht design is one of many fields within the maritime industry as a whole. I have had experience working with designers from parallel fields, such as in the ferry and cruise industries, right down to production boatbuilders, refit and repair. There are more jobs out there than you think.

 

Misha Merzliakov
Misha Merzliakov Yacht Design

 


Category: Yachtbuilding & Design

No photograph available

Marijana Radovic
Stand By/Marijana Radovic
Yacht Designer/Architect

What are the main lessons to be learnt from working for an established yacht design studio?
Good or bad, every experience is a lesson and even mistakes are precious. The challenge is to learn from them and in the process forge a character, which will enable a young designer to walk alone one day. Therefore, never start your own business before you gain some experience in a well-established studio. Education is not enough and neither is monetary investment. It is important for new designers to observe so they can learn how to run a business. This is not something you learn at design school, yet it represents at least 50 per cent of your activity once you’re on your own. Also, it is vital to be patient and not necessarily push immediately for a better position or more responsibility, even if you feel you deserve it. So my advice would be to sit back, work on your craft and enjoy the fact that you can observe how things should be done—and sometimes even how they shouldn’t—without carrying full responsibility or facing direct consequences. Approach this experience with an open mind, like you’re still in school.

Is such experience an essential prerequisite to success as an independent designer?
Absolutely. Beyond learning how to run a business, this experience also enables designers to acquire a certain creative maturity in their ideas and ways to translate them into real-world projects. This is why it is so often very obvious in the work of those young designers and studios that haven’t had this experience before becoming independent. It is really a basis for all future development and if you have the ambition to aim high, you must first build a solid foundation. Naturally, this experience makes sense only if you feel that you are honing your skills, expanding your knowledge and have good mentors. You must also be passionate about projects you are working on and feel motivated and dedicated, even if you’re on a minimum wage. If this is not the case, you should look for a place that will stimulate you and provide what you want and expect from the job. So experience is essential, but only if it serves a purpose, just any experience won’t do. Personal development is not a mechanical process.

How can young talent be encouraged to remain with a company?
The key is to build a healthy working atmosphere and keep people intellectually and creatively stimulated with good projects. Salary and promotions do play a role, but will not keep someone who is a designer at heart from leaving if his creative drive is not satisfied. Trust is also an essential element. When people show they are worthy of it, you should not be afraid to let the reins go and empower team members by passing more responsibility on to them. Never forget that communication is not a one-way street, so listen to what young team members have to say. Basically, the trick is to simply make employees feel as though they have a lot to lose by leaving, which also implies putting yourself in their position from time to time. But honestly, whatever you do, sometimes you just can’t stop people from going their own way.

What other options are open to designers looking to enter the field of yacht design?
If there is a will, there is a way. And there are many different ways, as circumstances and opportunities are different for everyone. Some are immediately drawn to yacht design and direct their studies in that direction. Some start working in more general fields, such as architecture or interior design, and then decide to specialise in yacht design. Others come from different disciplines, such as automotive or aircraft design, and are pushed to expand into yacht design by client demand. But in each and every case, the best way is to approach yacht design with humility and respect by first seeking to draw knowledge from those who already have some experience. It can be an internship, association or collabo


Category: Yachtbuilding & Design

No photograph available

Felix Messerschmitt
Messerschmitt Yachts
Principal Designer

What are the main lessons to be learnt from working for an established yacht design studio?
I think the main lessons are the many and complex requirements and technical regulations you have to keep in mind when designing a yacht. Young designers can benefit tremendously from working with an established team and their expertise in this area. You have the opportunity to get acquainted with new software and improve your skills in different design tools used by the yachting industry, such as CAD and CAM. Another benefit is that you get involved in the entire design, project realisation and product lifecycle for a customer without carrying all the risks, which you would if you took on a large scale project by yourself.

Is such experience an essential pre-requisite to success as an independent designer?
I’m sure that it is enormously helpful, but it’s not essential. There are several examples in the yachting industry that show you can also move laterally from another industry, such as product design or architectural design (Philipp Starck and Sir Norman Foster are famous examples). If you have a proven track record and have made a name for yourself in another industry, it is possible to be successful within the yacht industry, even without knowing all the technical intricacies.

How can young talent be encouraged to remain with a company?
Young talent is encouraged by interesting projects and clients, where they can see how their work has an immediate impact on the final result. They should be motivated to think about new ways of solving problems or design issues, and constantly grow with every new project. Interesting projects, the feeling of being an important part of a team and, of course, a competitive salary, are some of the most important factors.

What other options are open to designers looking to enter the field of yacht design?
The best options, in my opinion, are finding and building a relationship with an established partner in the yachting industry, or working in a closely related field (whether this is indoor design, product development and so on).

Felix Messerschmitt
Messerschmitt Yachts


Category: Yachtbuilding & Design

No photograph available

Peder Eidsgaard
Eidsgaard Design
Founder

What are the main lessons to be learnt from working for an established yacht design studio?
It takes several years of professional experience for a designer to fully grasp the complexity of the yacht design industry, and to appreciate how efficiency, diligence and flexibility are such important factors in the design process. Its not only design elements that make a young designer successful these days; the ability to work within tight deadlines, meticulous attention to detail and a thorough understanding of the client and supplier needs. These are just some of the learning experiences and skills that are a vital formation of a designer's career.
 
Is such experience an essential pre-requisite to success as an independent designer?
Even the world's best design schools provide no more than basic preparation for a career in design. Practical, professional experience in a design studio is not overrated. The experience, skill and knowledge a designer is able to gain from working with, and within a design team is invaluable for those wishing to design to the best of their ability.
 
How can young talent be encouraged to remain with a company?
Financial incentives are a positive encouragement, but the actual working environment is the most important factor in making designers stay with your company. In my mind this is created by the following:


- Provide employees with clear briefs and let them get on with responding without unnecessary interruptions.
- Do not change the brief unless the client asks for it.
- Reward risk-taking and allow mistakes to happen (once).
- Push boundaries to create exciting briefs that may be tough but that are exciting to work to.
- And last but not least, demand very high standards from the employees but set an example by demanding even more from yourself.
 
What other options are open to designers looking to enter the field of yacht design?
I firmly believe that there is only one option available to designers, which is to learn and make your mistakes as an employee with a reputable design studio, not as the head of a company. Remember that youth in itself is not appreciated like it is in fashion.

Peder Eidsgaard
Eidsgaard Design


Category: Yachtbuilding & Design

No photograph available

Nicholas Boksa
Boksa Marine Design, Inc.

What are the main lessons to be learnt from working for an established yacht design studio?
I started my career in the engineering department at the Burger Boat Company in Manitowoc, US. I picked up valuable engineering experience putting the skills I learned in school into practise, and also invaluable experience working with the production team. To understand how to produce practical and buildable design solutions needs to be learnt early on. Time spent operating, maintaining and servicing various vessel types, learning how they are used and operated, is experience that will be draw upon throughout a young designer's career.

Is such experience an essential prerequisite to success as an independent designer?
There are no prerequisites for becoming an independent designer, although there should be. It’s easy to learn and work through the equations and design in virtual space on a computer but hands on experience is what separates the great designers from the rest. There is a fine balance between aesthetics and function that needs to be reached, not only in operation but also for ease of construction. I have spent many hours trying to reason through particular areas on a vessel that the builder simply cannot access or where space to properly service a certain piece of equipment has been needed. 

How can young talent be encouraged to remain with a company?
Offering a young designer the ability to work on a wide variety of projects and giving them the authority to make certain decisions on their own will be empowering and will create job satisfaction. This also forces them to put their skills to work in solving real problems. It should be understood that setting off on your own is not as glamorous as it might seem at first.  It takes years to establish yourself in the industry as being talented and trustworthy. The tasks involved with operating a business are very time consuming, requiring many late nights and weekends in order to free the regular working hours for design and engineering. Especially during our current economic environment, the security of a solid job with an established firm or builder should be more than enough encouragement when weighted against the uncertainty of running a new business.

What other options are open to designers looking to enter the field of yacht design?
Working for a builder rather than a design firm can provide very valuable experience. If a young talent is interested in working in the luxury yacht market, they might consider a job designing commercial vessels first. Through this experience they can learn techniques for rugged and practical design solutions. Plus, typically when the yacht market is down, the commercial market tends to be up and jobs may be easier to find.

Nick Boksa
Boksa Marine Design


Category: Yachtbuilding & Design

 

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