Whilst working on yacht projects offers endless possibilities, it comes with a host of challenges. Silverlining Furniture’s head of design, Jim Birch, shares his top tips for designing furniture fit for the world’s most prestigious yachts, such as Artefact, Bravo Eugenia, Lady S, Kaos and Moonsand 3.
Soft corners
“Despite the yachts we work on being spacious and the movement when on the water gentle we still must consider sharp corners on our furniture. Our proposals do normally have soft radiuses so there isn’t the risk of bumping into a hard corner when walking on board. It can be tricky but always consider this from the start so that the final shape of the piece isn’t an afterthought or a last-minute addition.”

Sea catches
“These are integrated into most storage furniture so that doors or drawers don’t jump open when the vessel is on the move. Again, design these into the piece from the outset, so that they are considered and either disappear within the body of the piece or are subtly detailed.”

“Consider the lighting at day and night - it varies a lot. There is always a huge amount of natural ambient and sometimes direct sunlight in the day and then very controlled atmospheric artificial light settings at night. The finishes, colours, reflectivity of a surface or textures will behave quite differently in the different light levels so try and foresee this.”

“Remember ceiling heights are normally low on yachts - it affects how you will proportion the furniture.”

“Storage is always a big factor. Our furniture has to look beautiful, whilst having as much storage within it as possible. We will purposefully engineer pieces to have slim builds for the carcase and doors to maximise internal storage. We like to know the storage requirements in detail before we start to design our pieces - working closely with the captain or chief stewardess is often the best way to get this information. Yacht furniture is often adaptable to different requirements e.g., a dining table might need to extend in length to accommodate more diners, so the additional components needed for this have to be stored in the table base.”

“Integration of power and electrics and technology is thoroughly considered. Make sure you get a clear brief from the start about integrating tech as it will force your hand in terms of the design and proportions. Bespoke solutions can take a long time to develop and engineer so if the conversations are happening early in the design process it allows the correct time to come up with a good solution to often a challenging request.”

“Be considerate to all the other specialists working on the project. Building and fitting out a yacht is a huge team effort, and clear communication and working well with all parties is crucial. It can be a huge logistical challenge so be prepared for bumps in the road and respond to them positively and respectfully to your colleagues on board. They will thank you for it and return the favour.”
Be adventurous
“Yacht projects are a great opportunity to propose something unique and creative. Be inspired by the wider world, art world and other design disciplines.”