This exclusive interview with Espen Øino was conducted by Nicola Linza and Cristoffer Neljesjö in Monaco during August 2011.
Interview with Espen Øino
Why did you decide to devote your career to designing mega-yachts?
Professionally I never wanted to do anything but designing boats and ships. Where I grew up (in Norway) yachts and in particular mega yachts were not commonplace. However, pleasure boats and all types of other watercrafts including commercial vessels and fast ferries were very much part of my childhood so I guess ending up training as a naval architect was fairly logical but designing mega yachts somewhat accidental.
Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration is not something you look for, at least not me. You stumble across inspiration, often accidentally. It can be in the form of interesting landscapes, rocks, trees or it can be an insect or a photograph of an insect as well as a car, a helicopter, a building, an old ship or a vintage yacht; pretty much anything with interesting functions, shapes or details.
Is there a particular aspect of designing a super yacht that requires greater attention than a vessel of smaller proportion?
One of the challenges when designing large yachts is to make them feel intimate despite their size. This is somewhat of a paradox but large yachts require big scale "behind the scenes" logistics to operate and function normally and incorporating this in the design in a discrete and non-obvious manner is always a challenge.
How much does a prospective owner’s design aesthetic play into a final design?
Some owners have a keen interest in the aesthetic aspects of the design, others less so. Our role is to guide the clients in the right direction whether they are intimately involved or not.
Do you have a particular favourite project?
This may come across as a cliché but it is generally speaking the last project(s) you are working on. This is not only a politically correct answer but also very much reflects the truth. It can probably be explained by the fact that creative minds thrive in the midst of the creative process i.e. the current projects and tend not to look back at the past. Having said that, of all the yachts we have designed and that have been built, two or three are particularly significant to me for various reasons; namely the 71 meter Luerssen built Skat, the 127 meter Luerssen built Octopus and the 73 meter Hanseatic built Silver.
Do any romantic feelings evolve during the process of a project and is it hard to leave it once completed?
The process of designing and building a mega yacht from scratch can last up to 5 - 6 years from inception to delivery. Frequently the relationship with the clients and the crew continue afterwards so you get to know and appreciate a lot of different people in the process so naturally bonds are formed and somehow this sometimes transcends into a kind of a bond with the yacht itself. One should never lose sight of the fact that all projects start with a few simple lines on a piece of paper which, through the process, are transformed into a massive moving object that, unlike buildings, is not static; it literally comes alive when the engines are started for the first time and the yacht can move by itself. It is magic! Every time! It is therefore sometimes hard to see the yacht leaving the yard, I guess a similar experience to seeing your child leaving home for the first time.
What would your own dream yacht include?
Lots of tenders in all forms and shapes as I love to mess around in small boats i.e. driving or sailing them myself. And, being an avid skier and helicopter enthusiast, I would want to have a big ski locker on-board and carry a helicopter to take me to the slopes. There are surprisingly many beautiful mountains to ski on within helicopter range from the sea in so many places around the world starting with Monaco where I am based. Think about it; a fantastic combination, no?
The above interview with Espen Øino 2011 © Manner of Man Magazine/Welldressed. All rights reserved. Reproduction is strictly prohibited without written permission.