Gym of Mimer
Gym of Mimer
Scandinavian style is very on-trend at the moment, but there’s more to it than meets the eye – and the sensibilities of Scandinavian designers are helping drive aspects such as sustainability in yacht design forward.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you can’t help but have noticed that Scandinavian design is in. In part that’s thanks to some of the big-name home retailers that are propagating the principles of Scandi design – at least, what the rest of us perceive them to be – to the wider world, and with it has come an opening of other aspects of the culture too. Who doesn’t like a good Scandi-noir crime series? Even the aurora borealis – the northern lights – have been creeping south this year.
Such themes have a growing fanbase among superyacht owners, who are increasingly favouring clean, elegant lines and pale palettes above rich colours, heavy materials and accoutrements in precious metals. I remember being blown away by the clean, beach house chic of the 96-metre Vava II, designed by Rémi Tessier, or the simple yet stunningly elegant finishing of the pocket explorers from Tansu Yachts, for instance. But while these share some similarities with the style of our Northern cousins, there’s something else that drives Scandinavian design that is becoming more and more relevant for superyacht builders and owners across the board. It starts with the uniquely high-latitude approach to life and to nature.
“You can see it in April when the first sun hits after the long, dark winter – all the Scandinavians are sitting outside with jackets on,” begins Daniel Nerhagen, Partner and Yacht Director at design studio Tillberg Design of Sweden. “And then you go to Italy – nobody would even think of going outside at that time of year because it’s way too cold!”
Mimer at night
Mimer at night
Nerhagen’s team has extensive experience working on both yachts and on commercial projects, especially cruise ships, with a heritage that arcs back nearly 70 years. Recently becoming part of the Viken Group, the studio focuses on yachts of 60 metres and above, with another of the Viken Group’s acquisitions – Milan-based yacht design studio Hot Lab – undertaking projects below that threshold. But it’s Tillberg Design’s Scandinavian sensibilities that are really coming to the fore, evidenced not only in the style of their exteriors and interiors but also in their approach to facets such as sustainability.
Indeed, a recent project the team has been working on – a 60-metre explorer yacht named Mimer, after the Norse god who protected the well of knowledge at the base of the mythical tree Yggdrasil – puts sustainable thinking at its heart, and not just in terms of power and propulsion. “Sustainability can be viewed in many ways these days,” the team comment on the design. “It’s not only the introduction of hybrid propulsion and the latest tech that combines batteries and alternative fuels to lower the environmental impact – an eco-friendly yacht is also cleverly configured, uses local and earth-friendly alternatives for materials, respects the crew and provides a peaceful place. It allows you to discover nature in a harmonious way and provides for a full cradle-to-cradle study for the full lifecycle of the yacht.”
For Nerhagen, it’s the most natural thing in the world to think this way. “Sustainability has become really popular in recent years across the board, but for us Scandinavians it has been like, ‘oh, they woke up now!’,” he laughs. “We were working on projects 10 or 15 years ago that had a heavy, sustainable profile which were all fully certified, so for us it’s something we have been working with on a daily basis for a very long time and we haven’t considered it to be a trendy thing that you market.” It’s just something you do, he states, and that’s really a reflection of society in Scandinavia. “The way we handle waste and the way we protect nature and so on is very much just embedded in the culture here,” he adds.
For Mimer, that means a focus on every aspect, from using eco-friendly materials sourced as locally as possible, incorporating recycled and recyclable materials and selecting sustainably sourced raw materials, to using eco-friendly antifouling, minimising sound pollution and putting eco-friendly superyacht toys in the yacht’s garages. It speaks to a larger movement that is gathering pace in the superyacht industry not only to drive forward on emissions and alternative fuels but to consider every aspect of a yacht’s build and lifecycle – something in which the sector is leading the maritime industry.
It’s also about infusing that Scandinavian design sensibility, which celebrates beautiful natural materials and clean lines. “Scandinavian design is very practical,” Nerhagen enthuses. “The way we design is very much less is more, and the way we build things is very much with the highest quality and with attention to detail – it should be built to last a long time, and it’s something you should cherish and pass on to your next generation. That’s very much in the workmanship, and in appreciating the skills of, for example, the carpenter. It’s the appreciation of the craftsmanship, and an appreciation of the material you use.”
In essence, he asserts, it has to be comfy. “There shouldn’t be lots of bells and whistles and bling – that disturbs you,” he says. “You should feel relaxed and calm, and that comes from the combination of materials, textures and so on. Sometimes it can be very rustic, and sometimes it can be quite contemporary, but it still has the same principles – it’s all in the quality of the details and the materials. I think in our latest concept we really captured that, because it’s light and it’s the place to be,” he continues. “You just feel at home immediately.”
The interior design needs to cater not just to aesthetic form, but also definite function – particularly on a long-distance cruiser designed to visit the ends of the earth. It’s something that Nerhagen’s team places at the centre of everything they do – the essence of that Scandinavian practicality. “We carry over from our cruise ship experience an understanding of operational needs and of how the vessels are used,” Nerhagen concludes. “A designer can design the most beautiful room, but if it doesn’t function, it doesn’t matter.” When taken hand-in-hand with the innate consideration for the environment that comes part-and-parcel with Scandinavian design, the result is something stunning – beautifully crafted and styled yachts, conceived and built with a conscience. And these days, that matters more than anything.