AAt the Southampton Boat Show in September 2012, the Sunseeker stand was dominated by two new and exciting models – the latest iterations of the Predator 80 and Portofino 40. But it wasn’t just the exteriors that were garnering admiring glances – fresh interior styles with pale woods and contemporary details also caught the imagination of the public. “Those two interiors showed a shift in our interior offerings,” begins Stuart Jones, Sunseeker’s interior design manager. With additional input from cutting-edge superyacht designer Ken Freivokh, the principle interior designer for the Sunseeker range before Sunseeker’s own in-house design team took over, the 80 and the 40 hinted at a bright new future for customers.
“I joined Sunseeker in 2001,” Jones continues, “and at that point we offered just two different woods as standard, and 10 different linings. Today we offer a choice of eight different woods, 56 linings, and 250 fabrics in 15 different colourways. We work with an Italian timber flooring company and have used over 20 different woods for floors. From stones and marble to accessories from leading companies, such as Armani Casa and Ralph Lauren, the choices are almost limitless. We have developed our own brand style, and by having an interior design team doing all our own research, we have the brand identity more at heart. We have evolved our own style and way of doing things.”
Part of that evolution has been an immersion in the world of design beyond the yachting industry. “We do our own research because of how quickly the interiors market develops,” says Jones. “We visit exhibitions in Milan, London and Paris to ensure we’re up to speed with what’s going on in the world of interiors. Moreover, our clients tend to be more design aware. It’s very exciting in that respect.”
‘We visit exhibitions in Milan, London and PARIS to ensure we’re up to speed with what’s going on in the world of interiors. Moreover, our clients tend to be more design aware. It’s very exciting in that respect’
A change in both general design and in ethos has been key to the development of the modern Sunseeker interior. “Quite simply,” Jones explains, “the philosophy is connecting the inside with the outside, and by working with the exterior design team we are able to achieve sympathetic physical spaces that give you the feeling of glass façades and larger window areas, which enhance the architectural quality of the interior. Creating larger interior spaces has been the principle objective on the planning side, while the interior styling and decoration is driven a lot by design trends and, in particular, how we adapt those trends to suit the Sunseeker look and style.”
With design moving so quickly, and new fabrics, finishes and products arriving all the time, keeping abreast and incorporating the latest styles is key to engaging with the customer. Additionally, there has been an evolution from range-specific features to a more generally available palette of finishes, based on set furniture structures that allow for a maximum amount of choice for the client. “With the larger Sunseekers we’ve favoured a more streamlined design, lending itself more easily to be adapted to suit each client,” Jones explains. “The interior architecture is very refined, allowing a range of different finishes to be applied to achieve a different personality, look and style for each interior.”
This means that every Sunseeker can be individual without resorting to the time and expense of a fully customised interior design, a philosophy that carries down through the range. “The same ethos applies with the smaller boats in the Sunseeker range,” says Jones. “The continuity with the interior styling is something we try to ensure – when you step across that threshold from the cockpit you’re stepping into Sunseeker territory, and it’s important for people to relate to a Sunseeker interior, whether it’s a Portofino 40 or a 131 Yacht. The team will apply the same design principles to each project, and I’m proud to say that is the case with everything we do.”
It is not just the wood and fabric offerings that Sunseeker is expanding, but also other elements, such as lighting and overall concept design. “Lighting is so important,” says Jones. “The days of multiple spotlights in the deckhead are gone; we have a lot of concealed lighting that is integrated more sympathetically. We also work with Porta Romana for lighting, and they are producing an exclusive range of decorative light fittings for us, as a lot of fittings available on the market are just too big.”
As for the current trends, Jones reports a significant shift in the last five years toward contrasting wood finishes, where typically a luxurious deep brown or black wood such as wenge is combined with a light, bleached white oak. “It’s how people want to live – cool, more refined architecturally, not necessarily minimalistic but certainly more restrained,” Jones enthuses. “The serenity and simplicity makes some of the spaces we have designed almost like couture interiors, or penthouses on the water.” Surprisingly, the interiors team’s remit extends beyond just the inside spaces – it has a large say in the design of the deck spaces too.
“We use a number of different brands of exterior furniture that really liven up the deck spaces, and it’s one area clients are getting particularly interested in,” Jones says. “You spend most of your time outside and want variety in functional areas and furniture. Gone are the days where you just have square GRP boxes with cushions on top – it really has to be a beautiful terrace effect.”
It all suggests an enticing and exciting proposition for clients, no matter which end of the Sunseeker range they are aiming for. “We are not self-indulgent designers. We work very closely with our clients to make sure they are happy with the end result,” Jones concludes. “There’s more detail and more choice available than ever, so we’re able to help customers create very special interiors. We are open to anything a client requests – within reason, and within the limitations of time and budget of course – but we’re able to achieve what most clients want. It makes for very happy projects.” And, of course, for very happy owners.