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It's a shame Dyson or Apple Macintosh don't make phones, suggests Phil Draper.

NOVEMBER 2005

I love reporting clever or slick ideas. I’ve always used a lot of them in my journalism. Most have been spotted aboard the latest crop of new launches or on yard visits. However, as you will no doubt appreciate, for every neat, natty or unusual solution seen, there are usually as many or more obviously bad ones. But then we tend not to mention those — unless, of course, they’re really terrible.
And yes I can think of recent example or two; indeed one of them I doubt I will ever forget. Offhand I can’t think of anything crazier than the board of knives I spotted aboard an Italian-built 32m motoryacht recently. Some joker has made a feature out of the tools in the galley – knives and so forth — and displayed the whole lot on a huge display board attached to a galley wall. Things like that would be asking for trouble in a working kitchen ashore, but afloat, where the playing fields are anything but level, what nonsense? What danger? I won’t name the yard or the particularly boat. They will know who they are. But really?
Shaming the odd designer, builder, equipment manufacturer or service provider is not my job. I've always preferred to focus on the good stuff, promoting best practice and excellence, rather that highlighting weaknesses, big or small. We can rest assured that market forces will usually deal with the howlers. But every now and again one sees something that really grates and does need mention, not because it is the result of a lack of talent or attention on the part of someone in the marine supply change, but because no one had much choice.

“Shaming the odd designer, builder, equipment manufacturer or service provider is not my job. I've always preferred to focus on the good stuff, promoting best practice and excellence.” 

The superyacht sector certainly throws up more than its fair share of silliness, but then when it comes to pushing boundaries and appeasing those with more money than sense, no other sector has quite the same degree of ready opportunity. But there are areas that are still way off the pace and they needn’t be. For instance, it is commonplace aboard the bigger yachts to see phones in every cabin; just like in hotel rooms, they put guests in touch with one another, as well as with crew. But have you ever seen a really attractive phone system on one of these yachts? And come to that, have you ever seen a good one anywhere else? It is amazing in this day and age, but sadly true, that smart-looking ergonomic phones just don’t seem to exist — although feel free to correct me if you know of a good one. Indeed let me know and I’ll track the system down for a ‘New Product’ mention in the next issue. So bad are the phones seen aboard yachts that a prominent superyacht photographer pal of mine recently told me that he removed them whenever possible when ‘shooting’ a yacht interior, because they invariably detracted from scheme. According to him, it’s a real shame that Apple Macintosh or Dyson don’t make phones!
And I saw yet another example of designer helplessness just the other day aboard a brand new 40m-plus charter yacht from one of the very best bespoke yacht builders. Not only did she boast the usual atrocious phones, but also amid all the ostentation were stuck ugly green-and-white emergency exit stickers. They had the effect of dragging the whole ambience down to the level of a public convenience. Can a compromise surely not be found for this sort of thing with the likes of the MCA and the other classification societies?

© Phil Draper