Even keel | Monocle

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It’s a balmy day on the Balearic Islands when monocle steps onto the pier at Pantalán del Mediterráneo marina in Palma de Mallorca. Here, Danish architect David Thulstrup is standing alongside the latest launch from German shipyard Y Yachts. “I spent my childhood on the harbour, just outside Copenhagen, so being on a marina is very, very familiar,” he says, walking along the gangway and onto the deck of the Y8, which he has just finished working on. “But I sailed small boats when I was a kid, so this type of boat is very different. It’s quite impressive.” Impressive, indeed. This 80-foot (24-metre) sailboat, constructed at Y Yachts’s manufacturing facilities on the Baltic Sea, boasts a hull made entirely from carbon fibre. It’s a lightweight construction that lessens the reliance on engines and allows easy sailing, even in the light wind conditions typical of the Mediterranean.

“On the deck, it’s all about racing: you lift off the sunroof above the outdoor banquette, pull up the windshield and unfurl the sails, and suddenly you have this machine built for speed,” says Thulstrup. The yacht can cross the Atlantic and will be used to race in regattas around the globe. “Everything has been considered with ease of performance in mind. The Y8 even has two steering wheels, so that the captain can control the yacht from the point with the best visibility.”

Setting sail on the Mediterranean

Despite his youth spent on the harbour and his appreciation of the performance capabilities of the Y8, Thulstrup was called in to work on its lower deck. The Copenhagen-based designer is the latest in a line of creatives, which include Denmark’s Norm Architects and Pritzker Prize winner David Chipperfield, to collaborate with Y Yachts. Thulstrup was briefed to give the interiors a sense of generosity not typically associated with the cabins of racing vessels.

“The aim was to give the yacht a residential feeling rather than a typical yacht or racing boat feeling,” says Thulstrup. “So the first step was looking at how we could lay the space out so that there was a sense of openness.” The initial move was to create an open-plan living area in the centre of the yacht: on walking down the stairs and into the cabin area, you enter a generously proportioned salon-like space rather than being squeezed into a warren of hallways that typically lead to bedrooms.

Cedar cladding creates a homely feel
Bespoke cabinetry for holding glassware
Generous salon space
Freestanding furniture offers flexibility
Spacious galley kitchen

The sense of domesticity was enhanced by a decision to introduce freestanding furniture. “By having everything built-in, a yacht can become very stagnating because there’s no flexibility,” says Thulstrup. Instead of the typical banquettes and benches built into the walls of the launch, a bespoke Thulstrup-designed dining table sits proudly alongside the mast where it comes through the salon and there are also four Brdr Krüger Arv chairs are set (when the yacht is on the move, these are held in place with straps that prevent them from sliding across the floor). Two armchairs and a sofa, which sit on runners and can be fixed in place while sailing, add to the homely atmosphere, complementing Kasthall carpets and bespoke cushions in Kvadrat textiles.

“If the upper deck is all about performance, then the lower deck is all about quietness,” says Thulstrup, adding that the mix of materials was a key consideration too. Matt-finishes typically associated with domestic environments were used to complete the space, with cedar-veneer on the floor and walls, and solid mahogany on the steps and handrails. “When you’re up on the deck, everything shines and shimmers, reflecting the water, which means that, visually, there’s always something going on,” adds Thulstrup.

“We wanted to create a sense of relief for your eyes below deck. When you’re sailing across the Atlantic for three weeks, it’s extremely important that you have a space that helps you feel grounded and calm.”

The project wasn’t just about translating Thulstrup’s residential design language into a new environment – the fit-out needed to be engineered for travelling at speed too. “It means that we were always looking for a balance between material weight and strength, and beautiful design,” says Francesca Modica, leader of Y Yacht’s in-house design team. “We are always trying to make everything as light as possible.” Modica holds master’s degrees in architecture and yacht design from Politecnico di Milano and worked closely with Thulstrup on the creation of a fit-out for the Y8 that balanced aesthetics with performance. The duo developed custom cabinets, cupboards and drawers that discreetly lock when closed, so that their contents don’t fall out when jostled by the open sea. “A yacht is a home and it’s a product,” says Modica. “You need to study every detail, like it’s a product you’re developing. But you also need to be able to live in it like a home.”

The analogy is a reminder that designing a yacht really is about balance. It’s about finding an even keel between beauty and performance; between time in the marina and on the ocean; and between speed and stillness. “There’s a different relationship with time on a yacht,” says Thulstrup. “It’s all about waiting – waiting for the right weather, for food and supplies. It’s very much about coming down in tempo as a human, and even though the Y8 is a racing boat designed to go quickly, you need to have a calm space to balance that out.” 

When monocle departs, the Y8’s crew are preparing for a voyage across the Atlantic – just how quick they make the crossing depends on a host of factors beyond their control. So it’s a good thing that Thulstrup designed a space that finds a happy harmony between the need for speed and the ability to comfortably pass time too. Bon voyage. — L

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