‘My philosophy, always, is to create something the equal of anything you’re likely to find on Bond Street in London’ Sarah Verey tells me. That’s a serious remit but Sarah takes her position as Director of Creative Design very seriously.
At Princess Yachts International, pretty much every finish on board ship, from the gentle satin or gloss timber of the cabinetry and the exquisite tiles on the bathroom floor right down to the door handles and the throws on the bed have to pass the Sarah Verey taste test. With inspiration from across the design world, from boutique hotels to design shows, and contacts throughout the fashion houses of London and the continent, Sarah and her team’s input starts right at the planning stage of a new model.
Her brief is to ensure that every Princess motor yacht not only exudes the quiet class and exemplary style for which the marque is world renowned, but is fine-tuned to reflect the concept of each craft. A high performance sports yacht such as the V72 will warrant a subtly different accent compared with the studied majesty of a 40M yacht for example. And of course just looking fantastic is not enough. The materials that make up a yacht have to do far more. Upholstery might have to shrug off everything from sun cream to wet swimming costumes. Cabinet doors need to be easy to open when required, yet stay firmly shut when not. What appears to be free-standing lighting needs not only to be fixed, but permanently wired to the ships electrics. Surface finishes have to be able to withstand the harsh heat of some of the warmest locations on the planet.
And all this is just the beginning, that attention to detail doesn’t end once a new boat is signed off for production. The Princess Design Studio includes a team of design consultants based at Princess’ Mayfair office. All customers purchasing yachts of eighty eight feet and above are assigned their own design consultant, and it’s that person’s job not just to understand and then realise the customer’s dream, but to suggest and inspire in order to create a craft that is a perfect fit for that particular owner’s taste and lifestyle. And the blank canvas upon which to design that dream is both expansive and expanding. With links to top design houses like Hermes and Fendi, a design consultant can help with choices of everything from the fish knives to the furniture.
Sarah points to a recent example where a customer wanted a specific grade of high quality leather for the yacht’s furniture. In response, Princess built furniture carcasses which were dispatched to Alma, a long established leading leather specialist in London. There the very finest leather and suede were lovingly fitted and beautifully stitched for a truly bespoke finish. Another yacht was fitted out in conjunction with Fendi Casa, who was deeply involved in the conception and build of the craft in order to ensure that the bespoke furniture created for the client was a perfect fit. And it’s not just what the client sees and touches. Wifi systems, integrated AV equipment, navigation suites and much more are all tailored to owner requirements.
But don’t for one moment think that such attention to detail is purely the preserve of the Princess superyacht buyer. Precisely the same attention to detail is applied across the entire range. There may be less ultimate choice of layout with a smaller boat and hence less requirement for a design consultant to guide the purchasing process, but the quality, craftsmanship and design integrity remain, created by the exact same team responsible for the ‘M Class’ yachts. As indeed do the choices, with a myriad of options for woodwork, fabrics, work tops and flooring, allowing a buyer to stamp his or her individualism and create a look as personal as their signature, whatever the model. Indeed, lessons learned in the more compact environs of smaller craft often percolate up through the range as much as the style and quality of the larger yachts filters down, ensuring a cohesive design language right across the Princess family.