Yachting is more than a vacation. When you step onboard, it becomes a lifestyle.

Focus on… Terence Disdale Designs

ON A SUPERYACHT, THE CHALLENGE IS DESIGN OVER DÉCOR

Terence Disdale Designed Lounge on a 72m Motor Yacht

“DESIGNING THE INTERIOR OF A YACHT CANNOT BE COMPARED TO  ANY OTHER PROJECT”

Firstly it is necessary to separate design from decoration.  Most interior designers/ decorators function by walking into a space, analysing it and then starting out with their design concepts.  Our level of yacht design means that we need to be able to work with a blank sheet of paper – Disdale’s forte is in creating a complete design concept from the waterline upward.  The design team will develop a deck by deck plan, the superstructure lines, design and detail as well as the whole, totally bespoke interior.

Dining Room on 115m superyacht

Yacht interior design begins with the concept layout, termed the GA (‘General Arrangement’).  At this stage, we are planning the use of the space within the formalised structure of steel/ aluminium walls and water tight bulkheads.  I often say it compares with packing a suitcase – you start with a wishlist of rooms, facilities, stores, service areas, water sport toys, tenders, aviation, swimming pools, machinery spaces, air conditioning and air intake ducts etc., all of which have to be packed into the given parameters of the yacht.  Like a suitcase, there are several ways of fitting it all in – some won’t work, but some will mean it all goes in without having to sit on the lid!

This is the serious design stage – the planning and laying out of a vessel so that the required facilities all fit into the yacht without too much compromise.  During this stage we also have to abide by numerous regulations such as means of escape, fire separations, water tight compartments and so on.  These regulations seem to be ever changing, and even specify the amount of floor space a crew cabin has to provide, but once the GA is agreed, the interior decoration part of the design can be assessed.

Storage is always a fundamental issue on a yacht, for example it’s foolish to design a sofa without storage compartments under it for steward’s access (this is assuming the air conditioning return duct is not already built into the sofa base!).  The other main issue is that most major items are fixed to the wall or floor so they are secure in rough weather.  The fact that we are designing a machine can never be forgotten.

Every room will be put together prior to installation on the yacht: walls, floors and ceilings.  All these components have to be flexi-mounted to alleviate noise and vibration.  A ceiling can never be ‘just plaster and skim’ – it needs to be fully demountable to allow access to cable trays, plumbing, sprinkler systems, etc.

Living Room on 115m superyacht

Tastes will always vary from client to client.  Luckily Terence Disdale Design tends to attract clients who share our concept that a yacht is a relaxation zone.  Our ethos is that we do not gild the lily – the look should be beach house rather than penthouse.  The result of this is that we use a plethora of natural finishes such as lime stone, beach pebbles, parchments, leather, rattan, shagreen, egg shell and sand blasted wood.

VIP Suite on 72m Motor Yacht

In recent years, several yachts have been commissioned that are over 90 meters in length but we don’t see this as a trend.  It is more likely a result of yacht owners’ desire for ultimate privacy and comfort at sea.  A larger yacht doesn’t have to return to a harbour or marina as much as a smaller one; a larger yacht can accommodate its own swimming pool (something we have seen more and more on clients’ wishlists because of child security and jelly fish swarms); a larger yacht can  accommodate one or two helicopter landing stations – allowing friends who are also heli-mobile to come and go; a larger yacht is more stable at anchor which improves comfort and, the extra length provides adequate deck space for fully air conditioned tenders that can transport a dozen or so guests to and from the shore for various excursions.

The concept of ‘trends’ can have no place in successful yacht design.  A trend might be around one year but not the next, whereas a superyacht can take 3 – 4 years in the making.  Consequently all our design decisions are based on solid ground, not on fashion.


Leaders in world superyacht design, Terence Disdale Design was established in 1973 and currently employs a team of 15.

Prior to founding TDD, Terence Disdale worked as one of Jon Bannenberg’s two design assistants and in his forty year career, Disdale has been involved in more than a hundred super yachts design projects, as well as experience in hotel, retail, landscape, interior and private aviation design.

Terence Disdale Design is the holder of thirty international design awards, most recently for its involvement in the world’s largest private superyacht (163m, 530ft) which took home  ‘Best in Class’ and ‘Best Overall Yacht’ at the World Superyacht Awards in 2011.

Visit http://www.terencedisdale.co.uk/ or email for more information.

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