06 Apr 2018
We discussed style and trends with multi-awarded former car designer turned yacht specialist Adriana Monk as she had just returned from the Monaco Yacht Show. Adriana Monk is currently working on a big (approximately 100m) superyacht for a private client, a limited production 70ft carbon fiber sailing boat and a future concept yacht (a 130ft trimaran with two collapsible wing sails). As she puts it herself her designs can be described as “pure, simple and elegant” with an emphasis on applying her personal “3D” design approach: Dive, Define and Design. Adriana’s projects include « Wallys » as featured here. All the yachts she designs allow owners to sail for leisure or competition in the very best conditions but also to entertain friends and relax. A real “tour de force” which manages to mix the most innovative technologies with bespoke interiors.
John Taylor: You were probably in Monaco for the yacht show season. What caught your eyes and what trend did you find most worthy of attention?
Adriana Monk: The Monaco Yacht Show is one of the most important yachting events which I have not missed it in 10 years. For the past 5 years, I have been part of the jury for the Design & Innovation awards (Boat International Media) which give me an incredible insight into the newest yachts and trends. As is often the case, some yachts thrive on offering the largest number of exquisite materials whereas others have a very philosophical approach with a minimum number of materials applied in a very strategic manner. This year I noticed many yachts with character and personality! This means that it is more and more obvious owners wish to play a real part in defining and realizing their dream yacht.
JT: Where is the sector heading to in terms of design, technology, and UX? And where do you personally stand?
AM: It is essential to make sure that owners (and crew) are “connected" when onboard. The implications of fast internet access mean large dome satellites and ugly structures are up high. There are new technologies that are challenging these standards but are not quite as efficient yet. Intuition is certainly a design feature that I am very interested in. Many yachts today are built not only for personal use but also for charter purposes. In this case, everything must be "easy to use". A smart boat is cool but it must also remain relevant. For example, You can have hundreds of lighting options but what people want is a preselected choice of a few good "moods" that they can choose from. The use of i-pad controlled rooms was common a few years ago. Today I see a trend back towards very simple and basic controls.
JT: Given the fact that you have received many prestigious awards in recognition of your great work, what is now driving you? How do you want your design to be understood and perceived? Both by the industry and the client of course.
AM: My design career is reaching its 20 year anniversary of which 10 were automotive and 10 mainly in the yachting world. What drives me is curiosity which is powered by motivation and inspiration. This can come from many sources and there is not a recipe that I can follow. Travelling and seeing different cultures is of course invigorating. Art, architecture, fashion, and design are all elements of culture that I perceive and absorb on my trips. More and more I realize that beyond the look and function of the product, it is the feeling that it evokes and the experience it transmits that makes the difference: the ultimate “experiential design”.
JT: How would you describe your style and what makes your design commissions special? What do you care about most when addressing a brief?
AM: Although my designs can be described as pure, simple and elegant, I would like to think that I do not try to impose my own design style but that I manage to capture the design brief for each project by creating something new and exciting. Every design commission has my personal attention. What I try to do with every new project is to apply my personal “3D” design approach: Dive, Define and Design. In this way, I first embrace the project by trying to understand it and immerse myself within. Then I try to define a design philosophy: give the design a reason and a functional foundation. And finally, I design it, adding form, my passion, and attention to every detail. What I care most about is actually fully understanding the demands of the client. As advanced car designers, we have freedom (and responsibility) of determining what the future holds and what design will look like in 5 years. As yacht designers, we have to listen to the clients' wishes and dreams.
JT: It could have been our first question; when and why did you choose to be a designer and what led you to create your own studio?
AM: I am fortunate that design in part of my DNA. Both parents are industrial designers and moved to Milano in the 60's. The Bauhaus school of thought has always been emphasized and form & function have always been my staple diet. But I only discovered the fact that I wanted to be a designer after exploring various avenues. I was in California at a junior college where figure drawing and bridge building were my favorite classes. When I sat down and analyzed my passion I realized that the artistic flair and the quest for mechanical function combined into a creative profession: product design. I was lucky to be accepted and get a degree from the Art Center College of Design, attending both the European campus in Vevey, Switzerland and graduating from the Pasadena campus in California.
JT: Do you sail? If so where and how often? On your own yacht?
AM: I love sailing although I do not have my own boat. When I decided to dive into the yacht design world, I also wanted to expand my knowledge of sailing by getting a day-skipper license in the UK, following a passion I decided to explore even further. As a sporting member of the Monaco Yacht Club, I have sailed on the J70's and like to participate in the classic yacht regattas. I have had the honor to sail on Tuiga, the 1909 Fife design yacht that belongs to HSH the Prince of Monaco. I have had the privilege to follow many Wally class regattas both on board the yachts or on the chase boats. I enjoy the camaraderie of racing and make it a point of attending the Maxi Rolex Cups as well as the Loro Piana regatta in Porto Cervo (Sardegna). The Voiles de St. Tropez is another favorite. This year I had the privilege of going to America’sCup in Bermuda and watching the racing from a beautiful catamaran.