Why go made to measure? Intelligent custom yacht furniture
Last updated: 25/01/2017
Call it ‘custom’, ‘bespoke’ or ‘tailor-made’, made-to-measure furniture provides the only way to outfit a truly unique and functional superyacht.
Whether to create new and exciting interiors for the discerning superyacht owner, or to fit to the awkwardly shaped areas and timely service demands on board, made-to-measure furniture is indispensable in superyacht design.
Yachting Pages spoke to Aufait S.L., manufacturers of bespoke yacht furniture, about what to consider when it comes to superyacht made-to-measure furniture, and the step-by-step processes involved in its design and manufacture.
Furnishing a superyacht: Why made-to-measure is a must
With the mounting cost of furnishing a superyacht, it may seem unfathomable to some that superyacht owners and luxury yacht builders would invest even more money in expensive made-to-measure furniture and furnishings.
There is often method to their ‘madness’ however, as, while satisfying demands for unique, stylish pieces - the best that money can buy - made-to-measure yacht furniture also meets the demands of the complicated on-board architecture and problematic regulatory requirements imposed on superyacht designers. As such, superyacht furniture must not only be beautiful, comfortable and practical, but also lightweight and flexible in its design, conforming to demanding regulations in place in the yachting industry.
Dave Marrs, owner and managing director of Aufait S.L. explained, “Each yacht is extremely individual, with its own layout, design and style. Within each yacht, each area is also truly unique. Made-to-measure is therefore the best, and often the only way to go with superyacht furniture.
“Space, size and shape must be considered when making furniture and alterations for a superyacht, as yachts do not offer square rooms on which you have a blank canvas to work. It is therefore vital to consider the angles, the shape of the yacht, and the space available, as well as hidden functionality aspects, such as wiring, air conditioning vents and water supply. This provides the ‘working environment’ as it would be in a house.
“Furthermore, a yacht is a floating vessel – weight and balance must therefore also be considered, as well as the way in which the vessel moves at sea: It’s important to consider the way in which the furniture and furnishings will be secured and handle vibration.”
Designing made-to-measure yacht furniture: Optimising design, space and practicality on board
So how is made-to-measure furniture designed and manufactured to optimise the appearance, space and service standards on board?
Dave explained, “Superyacht furniture is typically manufactured to exacting specifications, requiring impeccable standards and detail for every piece. Care and attention must be paid to each individual item, which can only be achieved through a more personal approach.
“Moreover, in many instances, it is vital to retain the existing design of the space using existing materials, so additions and alterations do not look ‘out of place’ on board. For these reasons, it is neither possible nor practical to mass-produce furniture for a superyacht: Making the same item a thousand times or more and expecting it to fit each individual yacht will not produce the best results. Nor will a superyacht owner want the same furniture as his or her neighbour! This applies not only to discreet items of furniture, but also to alterations in the layout of the yacht – whether it’s an exterior of a stairwell or an entire refit.
“Most importantly, machines cannot talk; when approaching new projects, discussions are therefore crucial in order to find out what the client is looking for – ‘flat-pack’ and ‘off-the-shelf’ are not usually on the agenda!”
As such, he shared with us the process of designing and manufacturing made-to-measure furniture for any superyacht.
Step one: The design brief
“The initial step for any made-to-measure piece or project is to talk to the owner, designer and those involved in the decision-making process.
“Once we have a concept design or an idea of what is required, we will then look at the materials involved, and the practicality of the design. Our job is to get as close as is humanly possible to the original idea, while ensuring that it will fit with the overall design, environment and space available on board.”
Step two: Create a scale model or ‘rod’
“The next stage in any project is to draw up a working rod, which is a full-scale drawing of the piece, or sections of that item. In most cases, we will make a full-scale template or model from which to work.”
Step three: Sourcing materials for yacht furniture
Once the design has been approved, a furniture maker will need to source the materials needed for manufacture.
“Next we will source the relevant materials, which are not always readily available, and in some cases no longer exist due to environmental changes and overuse of certain woods.
“At Aufait, we only source from companies that are accredited with FSC Certification. In a more modern context, man-made products have become extremely popular and versatile, so we will also use these where applicable.”
Step four: Manufacture and assembly
“Once we have the design and materials in place, the manufacturing process begins: Veneers will be cut, book-matched and pressed. Where using solid wood, the wood will be cut, processed and matched in size to the working rod.
“Once everything is cut to size, the assembly process begins, involving joints, clamping methods, and various techniques to attach the components to each other.”
Step five: Finishing the item
“Finally, the item is cleaned and prepared ready for the required finish. In the meantime trial fittings will be made on board to ensure it’s a perfect fit.”
Step six: Fitting the furniture on board
“Once the finish has been applied, the item is then fitted on board and secured, often a process of several elements, which form the overall project.”