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Interview With Yacht Designer Julien Cadro: A Future With Sophisticated Eco Yachts

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Meet Julien Cadro, a young French yacht designer that first came to our attention with his Avatar looking “Ecoo” superyacht concept submitted to the Rossinavi Design Challenge.

A recently graduated design student, Julien holds a Masters in Transportation Design and had the opportunity to intern with Sarrazin Design, working on projects for yacht builders Bénéteau and Jeanneau and also completed an internship at Alps Design Lab, working for Archamps Technopole on the implementation of an autonomous vehicle service throughout Geneva.

I took the opportunity to ask Julien Cadro a few questions to get to know him better and understand a little more about his design history and his thoughts regarding yacht design and life in general.

Julien Cadro Longitudinalis superyacht design aft view
The unique glass pool of Julien Cadro’s Longitudinalis sailing yacht design. Credit: Julien Cadro
Portrait of French Yacht Designer Julien Cadro
Portrait of French Yacht Designer Julien Cadro

BRENON

What is your story? Why did you choose design and specifically yacht design?

JULIEN

I decided to study design because I always loved beautiful objects and I was fascinated by people who can create something from a white paper to a final object. I grew up next to the ocean in France so every weekend I saw some boats and step by step I became passionate about those boats. I remember the sea trip that I did with my neighbour, who had a boat, and the feeling of freedom that you can have on a boat. I think that’s why I preferred designing some boats although I was passionate about cars too.

Julien Cadro's Longitudinalis sailing yacht design
Julien Cadro’s Longitudinalis sailing yacht design. Credit: Julien Cadro

BRENON

You studied transportation design at the International Strate School of Design. What was that experience like and what are some of your highlights of your time there?

JULIEN

That was not especially a good experience because I didn’t want to become a car designer so it was not really interesting to me and my relation with the mobility design director was not good (he didn’t really care about his students unfortunately).

BRENON

What is your earliest memory of being interested in design?

JULIEN

I don’t have any particular memory but, since I was a child, I was drawing, especially cars, boats and bikes.

Julien Cadro's Solis superyacht design aerial view
Julien Cadro’s Solis superyacht design. Credit: Julien Cadro
Julien Cadro's Solis superyacht design aft view
Solis would be an explorer yacht with helicopter facilities and a garage below. Credit: Julien Cadro

BRENON

Do you come from an artistic/design-oriented family?

JULIEN

Absolutely not haha! My father is an engineer and my mother is a quality and safety trainer so my parents are really not artists.

BRENON

What does your design process look like? How long does it take to create a design you are happy to share with others?

JULIEN

Most of the time, I begin choosing a boat typology (monohull, catamaran, megayacht, small boat…) depending on a target. After, I do some quick sketches to find an interesting shape. Once I have a good shape, I begin the modelization and I find many shape adjustments thanks to the 3D modelization.

BRENON

What kind of designs do you envision yacht owners of the future will want to see?

JULIEN

I think that yachts have to be attractive and thanks to the increasing of the technology we are able to do more sophisticated shapes, that’s what I wanted to show with my Speculo concept. We have to consider the environmental side too and more and more people are concerned by this issue and want to take care of our planet, that’s why I did the Ecoo concept, to show that we can do “Eco-friendly” yachts. So to answer your question, I think we will see sophisticated and green yachts in the future and I hope I will be one of the people who will design them

Julien Cadro's Speculo superyacht design aerial view
Aproaching superyacht Speculo by helicopter. Credit: Julien Cadro
Julien Cadro's Speculo superyacht design aft view
The unique aft of Julien Cadro’s Speculo superyacht design. Credit: Julien Cadro
Julien Cadro's Speculo superyacht design side view
Julien Cadro’s Speculo shimmers at sunset. Credit: Julien Cadro

BRENON

What are some of your own favourite design projects to date and can you briefly explain the story behind them?

JULIEN

One of my favourite concepts is “Navis” because it was designed for disabled people. It’s not a yacht but a small 6.3 meters sailing boat but I think it’s my smartest project. That was my thesis project so it’s really a full project from the exterior styling to the development of a new kind of tiller, adapted to the disabled people.
I am currently working on a catamaran yacht, I have to confess that I am quite proud of this project.

Julien Cadro's 6.3 metre trimaran sail boat design Navis
Julien Cadro’s 6.3 metre trimaran sail boat design Navis caters to the disabled. Credit: Julien Cadro

BRENON

Why would a future client choose to work with you?

JULIEN

I’m a young designer so I think I have a fresh vision of what a yacht could be. If people have a look to Speculo or Ecoo I hope they can see unconventional yachts and appreciate them. I am passionate about designing yachts so I’m always looking for perfection.

Julien Cadro's Ecoo superyacht design side view
Julien Cadro’s Ecoo superyacht design. Credit: Julien Cadro
Julien Cadro's Ecoo superyacht design aft view
Ecoo is designed as an Eco-friendly superyacht. Credit: Julien Cadro

“I’m a young designer so I think I have a fresh vision of what a yacht could be.”

Julien Cadro – French Yacht Designer
Julien Cadro's Ecoo superyacht design bow view
Superyacht Ecoo’s impressive waterline view. Credit: Julien Cadro

BRENON

Who are some of your favourite designers and why?

JULIEN

I particularly admire the work of Philippe Stark on the Sailing Yacht A because this yacht is really impressive. I love the work of different design studios like Lobanov, Sinot Design, Vripack, Winch Design, Tony Castro Yacht Design, Espen Oeino and Alberto Mancini too.

BRENON

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

JULIEN

I find inspiration in architecture especially as you can see on concepts like Solis or Ecoo.

Julien Cadro's Solis superyacht design side view
Julien Cadro’s Solis superyacht design inspired by architecture. Credit: Julien Cadro

BRENON

What have you been reading or watching lately?

JULIEN

I have seen the Formula One series (Drive to Survive) on Netflix, that was really inspiring. This is not linked to the design area but it gives you strength.

BRENON

Do you have any favourite websites/social media accounts you particularly enjoy?

JULIEN

I love all the accounts that are linked to yachts, as yours that I really love because it combines two of my passions: yacht and automotive. I like design and architecture accounts too like Dezeen or Design Boom for example.

BRENON

If you could have dinner with any 4 people, who would they be?

JULIEN

I think it will be with deceased people who lived different eras to organise a debate to know what era was the best. For example we could have Jules César, Gengis Khan, Napoléon and James Watt.

BRENON

Where is your favourite holiday destination?

JULIEN

My favorite one is Greece especially Santorini, it’s just beautiful. I travelled there ten years ago, and I just want to come back to this beautiful island.

Julien Cadro LUSSO Marron
Julien Cadro’s LUSSO Marron imagined at anchor. Credit: Julien Cadro
Julien Cadro LUSSO Marron design
LUSSO Marron sailboat design by Julien Cadro. Credit: Julien Cadro

BRENON

What do you like to do in your free time to relax/re-charge?

JULIEN

It’s a little bit silly but I love driving especially in the seafront, to breathe some fresh air.

BRENON

What is the best gift you’ve ever received?

JULIEN

That was my first car that I received for my 18th birthday. That was my dream car, a Lotus Elise mark 1.

BRENON

Do you have any causes that are close to your heart?

JULIEN

Yes I am concerned about the environment. I am not an activist but I estimate that I had to design yachts in order to reduce the carbon footprint of a yacht.

Julien Cadro LUSSO Orange design
Julien Cadro’s LUSSO Orange design. Credit: Julien Cadro

BRENON

When do you feel the most creative? Are you a morning person or a night owl?

JULIEN

I was a morning person but thanks to my studies I am more a night owl now haha!

BRENON

Do you have any daily habits that help you focus when designing?

JULIEN

I always listen music to be focus on what I am doing.

BRENON

What advice would you give to new designer students just starting out?

JULIEN

You have to work hard and don’t give up if you are passionate!

Julien Cadro EX design
Julien Cadro’s yacht design named EX. Credit: Julien Cadro

BRENON

What tools do you use to design? E.g software, materials, hardware, books etc.?

JULIEN

I use especially Photoshop, Rhinoceros, Keyshot and many sheets of paper to draw.

BRENON

What might you have done if you had not studied transportation design?

JULIEN

I wanted to be an architect during my childhood. Maybe that’s why my main source of inspiration is architecture.

BRENON

Describe a dream project that you’d love to work on?

JULIEN

I would like to work on the most sustainable yacht in the world using all the new technologies available to reduce the carbon footprint. Maybe if Ecoo becomes a real yacht it could be a good starting point, so if rich people see this interview don’t hesitate to contact me haha!

Julien Cadro's Ecoo superyacht design
The view from Julien Cadro’s Ecoo would be spectacular. Credit: Julien Cadro

BRENON

Do you have any exciting works-in-progress or upcoming projects you can share with us?

JULIEN

Yes, I am working on a 50 meters catamaran project, so you will see that soon.

BRENON

If you could ask any other designer a question, who and what would it be?

JULIEN

My question is: “Can we be passionate about our work all our life?” and I hope the answer is “Yes”.

BRENON

How can you be contacted and where can people find more information on Julien Cadro designs?

JULIEN

People can see my work on www.instagram/juliencadro and can send me a message and I will answer them. They can have also take a look to my website at this link: https://jcadro.wixsite.com/juliencadro.

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Interviews

Interview With Yacht Designer Patrick Knowles: The Art of the Process

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Meet Patrick Knowles of Patrick Knowles Designs, an award-winning American design firm that found its early footing in aircraft interior design for private, VIP and Head of State before transitioning to the luxury yachting market.

With over 30+ years of experience in the superyacht industry, Patrick has had the pleasure of collaborating with the likes of Burgess Yachts, Feadship, ISA Shipyard, Palmer Johnson and more throughout his career and has a long working relationship with many of his clients (some who have returned up to 19 times for new projects)!

Patrick was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding his own design process and his thoughts on the yachting industry. I hope you enjoy his insights as much as I have.

Patrick Knowles Design - Yacht Designer
Meet yacht designer Patrick Knowles. Credit: Catalina Ayubi/ Ayubi Photography

BRENON

What is your story? What is your earliest memory of being interested in design?

PATRICK

From an very early age, I was drawn to aesthetics from architecture and interior. I was mainly attracted to automobiles, airplanes, and boats, but it wasn’t even on my radar that I could pursue those disciplines of design.

Patrick Knowles Design Early Career Project 2 - Photo Shane Henesley
A timeless classic superyacht interior from early on in Patrick Knowles design career. Credit: PKD

BRENON

Do you come from an artistic/design-oriented family?

PATRICK

No, I am alone in that endeavor in my family.

BRENON

Tell us a little more about Patrick Knowles Designs. Describe what the early days of starting the company looked like and what it has grown into today.

PATRICK

The early days of my company witnessed a very different landscape. When I started my marine career in design in 1989 so much of it was done manually.

Back in those days, most were still building interiors onsite. Now, with the advent of super technology, many companies have emerged that are deemed “Interior Fabricators” in which they construct interiors….to a dizzying level of detail and complexity.

Often this takes place in a different country and the entire interior is then shipped to the shipyard, un-crated, and assembled in the envelope of the vessel’s interior. Much precision and skill is needed for this.

Also, our style of presentation has changed, which also used to be manual and done by hand, and now EVERYTHING is automated. All of my project presentations are virtual in which we produce, I must say, a stunning visual reflection of the owner’s wishes and our ideas.

I am constantly amazed by the visuals we produce because of the advancement in technology. I’m currently designing a 90-meter expedition vessel in which we will be releasing a brief movie presentation for next week.

Also, I have a Bentley-inspired helicopter I am designing that will yield an amazing optic when the visual production is complete.

BRENON

What does your design process look like? How long does it take to create a design you are happy to share with others?

PATRICK

That varies. When I sign a new yacht, aviation or land-based project, I listen intently to the client and I allow that to simmer for varying periods. And then the unexpected happens.

There is not a set time, there’s no schedule, it just strikes me, and I can simply envision the project. When that happens, it is helpful if I’m near a pad and pencil as it just flows freely. When I reach that point of assimilating a project, it happens very quickly.

I can sit and sketch tens of pages (20,30,40 and more) in a matter of hours!

Patrick Knowles Design Concept Gallery Sketch
Sketch design by Patrick Knowles. Credit: PKD

Once it has been made tangible, I progress to the next level, which is editing followed by refinement.

Something interesting I would like to say: in many cases, the very first drafts of my frenzied sketches are more often than not, what the final design becomes, or at least very close to it.

I think it has to do with the clarity I have when arriving at my initial comprehension of the project. It’s typically a highly creative zenith or point for me, a moment that solidifies my direction. Paying keen attention to the nuances of the client’s details is critically important and when I allow that to resonate into my subconscious, the moment of realization for the design explodes!

Classic American Yacht Patrick Knowles Design - Marc Paris
“Classic American Yacht” designed by Patrick Knowles. Credit: Marc Paris

BRENON

Does Patrick Knowles Design have a particular design style or “DNA” that you are known for?

PATRICK

No. I try very hard not to cultivate a brand style or DNA. I would become bored if I were to do that. I prefer the challenge of doing something new, of absorbing the character of the client and reflecting that back in an interpretation that is intended only for them. That gives me the most gratification in what I do. I love creating something bespoke and new.

Patrick Knowles Design Master Bedroom Yacht - Photo Alexis Andrews
Superyacht master bedroom design by Patrick Knowles. Credit: Alexis Andrews

BRENON

What are some of your own favorite design projects to date and can you briefly explain the story behind them?

PATRICK

A 58-meter yacht in which the design brief was a request to fulfill the owner’s love of wood and natural stone. The interior has 21 species of wood and some dozen types of marble and the vessel was quintessentially “masculine” with bronze inlays in the woodwork and stone, leather floors and hand carved furniture.

58m Yacht Project Trio Sean Gleason
The “masculine” 58m yacht with 21 species of wood and over a dozen types of marble. Credit: Sean Gleason

Then there was the opposite end of the spectrum in that of a 63-meter I designed for a young family in which the design brief was for the family to feel like they were at a floating resort, the likes of the Four Seasons in the South Pacific.

Hence, the design was light, open, airy and lighthearted, with incredible hand-carved panels of marine and tropical fauna finished in nickel leaf. Other details included hand-painted murals depicting a rainforest in the grand staircase, a 3-story glass light fixture in the form of sea anemone spanning all decks of the yacht, and a massive Swarovski crystal-studded coral reef hand made by a jeweler depicting the owner’s family in a school of seahorses, each one colored to match each of their accommodation suites.

ISA 63m Yacht Patrick Knowles Design Staircase - Kristina Strobel
The floating “Four Seasons South Pacific” inspired 63m family yacht design by Patrick Knowles Designs. Credit: Kristina Strobel

And yet another favorite yacht I designed was a Classic American Yacht reflecting times gone by with gleaming white planks and teak batten overheads, teak decks, keeper rails and an eye-pleasing array of fine, classic millwork details.

There are others I can recall, however for the sake of the length of the interview, I will exercise self-control and stop at 3 of them!

Classic American Yacht Patrick Knowles Design - Marc Paris
Classic American Yacht “Inevitable” designed by Patrick Knowles Designs. Credit: Marc Paris

BRENON

What are some important questions you would recommend a new client ask when looking for a potential yacht designer?

PATRICK

It would be beneficial and revealing of them to ask, among other questions: “How will the designer be communicating the design to them? What does the designer require of the owner?”

Sometimes there can be a disconnect in this department as sometimes owners might not realize how much skin is going to be in the game for them. Not all designers are intuitive or proactive, or assertive, and when that is the case, the project can lag all the way into the state of permissible delays with the shipyard.

The client needs to perceive the level of the designer’s ability to process the owner’s directive, turn that around and project it back to the owner. On most build projects, there are milestones and some of them can be weighty.

Ensure that the designer you hire has the staffing power and brain power to meet such demands. If you perceive that does not match up…keep interviewing.

Whomever you chose will be your project colleague for 2,3,4 or more years.

BRENON

What have you been reading or watching lately?

PATRICK

More than anything recently, I am an avid observer of many social media platforms, and I digest and process aesthetics from all sources, not just the obvious “design” platforms even though they are good.

I love observing travel and vacation platforms, automotive platforms, special interest platforms and more, which I do for a couple key reasons, one obviously is for the design and aesthetic and the other is for the integration and interaction of people in such environments.

It isn’t always about the interior environment or being on the deck of a boat either. It’s about watching people live and use and express their experience in a specific environment or a setting.

Patrick Knowles Design Interior Gallery 1
Attention is paid to detail and the finishing touches. Credit: PKD

BRENON

When do you feel the most creative? Are you a morning person or a night owl?

PATRICK

I am absolutely a morning person. When I do not see the dark turn to light, I feel as if I am chasing the day. When I greet the dawn, I feel empowered and in control of my day.

I typically watch the sun rise on a daily 4-mile walk – it’s therapeutic for me.

Classic American Yacht Patrick Knowles Design Main Salon - William Smith
Main salon design of M/Y Inevitable with warm tones and timber. Credit: William Smith

BRENON

What does an average work day look like?

PATRICK

My day starts the night before. I typically go to bed with a laser sharp view of what my next day will be like and the tasks I need to accomplish by the time I return to my sleep again.

I wake up early….in the 4am hour, I walk 4 miles on a great trail in my community, I come home and reflect on my spiritual needs for the day, and then I start my day, which of late is at my home in which I sit at a desk 8 floors up overlooking a golf course with the skyline of Fort Lauderdale in the background.

That sense of open space opens and refreshes my mind. I vacillate between my desk for emails and other laptop tasks, my favorite chair when I switch to doing my work on my phone, which is the lion share of how I do my work each day, believe it or not, and on my drawing table to sketch for my projects or anything that comes to my mind that I am inspired to sketch. That is my baseline day.

Of course, that all changes when I visit my office to handle the business-side of my business, visit a site or a shipyard, meet a client, or visit a vendor or a showroom.

Wide open spaces to relax and refresh the mind. Credit: Roddy Grimes
Wide open spaces to relax and refresh the mind. Credit: Roddy Grimes

BRENON

Do you have any daily habits that help you focus when designing?

PATRICK

Yes. Clear my email. Clear my text messages. Clear my voicemail. Clear any and ALL static before I escape into my alternate reality in which I immerse myself into my virtual project.

I become very engaged and perceptive of what I’m designing, what I’m putting down on paper and I live in that environment, I can feel it.

That can’t be done successfully or at least easily with static and distractions.

BRENON

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

PATRICK

Everywhere! In nature and in walking around and observing people and how they dress and how they interact with the environment.

One of my greatest sources of inspiration is when I travel, in which architecture is king. One of my last business trips before the lockdown was Lisbon, on that trip, I couldn’t get enough of the tiled buildings.

The inspiration for that sort of detail remained at the forefront of my mind, and now, I am designing a boat in which photos of those buildings inspired details that are being woven through the project.

The unique glass petal design feature created as part of the staircase of ISA. Credit: PKD
The unique glass petal design feature created as part of the staircase of ISA. Credit: Kristina Strobel

BRENON

If you are having an “uninspired” day what do you do to get in a more creative/productive frame of mind?

PATRICK

Nothing. If that day is not gelling with me in a creative sense, then tomorrow it is. Forcing design or creativity is like forcing excitement over a dish you don’t like…it’s just not there.

Engagement, conviction and joy needs to be present when designing because it will be reflected in the end result. It takes a lot of mental and emotional bandwidth to design a good outcome.

Mia Elise Pool Patrick Knowles Design - Photo Dana Jenkins
Aboard M/Y Mia Elise designed by Patrick Knowles Designs. Credit: Dana Jenkins

BRENON

What advice would you give to new designers embarking on their careers?

PATRICK

Explore every facet of design. Design is a big word and it touches EVERYTHING we touch and within design there are so many niches and opportunities to stumble upon – often in a sector or discipline of design you weren’t aware of.

At the onset I mentioned I was fascinated with automotive, marine and aviation design but had NO idea at a young age of how to connect in that regard but yet here I am now – a yacht designer formerly aviation designer, all by exploring different avenues of design.

Neither of these were on my radar initially!

From aviation design to luxury "floating resort" superyacht design. Credit: PKD
From aviation design to luxury “floating resort” superyacht design. Credit: PKD

BRENON

What might you have done if you had not become a yacht designer?

PATRICK

Hands down….a pilot!

BRENON

Describe a dream project that you’d love to work on?

PATRICK

I would love to work on a conversion of epic proportions! Either the conversion of an Airbus A380 into an ultra swank private aircraft (I have produced a concept which I designed for a major publication years ago and would love to see something similar come to life). Or, the conversion of an SST (Concorde) into an uber luxurious business or VIP jet!

One can dream…

Conversion concept of an Airbus A380 into a tri-deck private aircraft. Credit: PKD
Conversion concept of an Airbus A380 into a tri-deck private aircraft. Credit: PKD

BRENON

Do you have any exciting works-in-progress or upcoming projects you can share with us?

PATRICK

I have several. A 49-meter expedition catamaran, a 226′ commercial vessel conversion into a private expedition vessel / yacht, an early stage 90-meter expedition vessel, and a series of highly customized VIP helicopter designs.

I am also getting set to deliver a 3-year project within the next 90 days which is an amazing 94′ sportfish fighting machine with an environment filled with accoutrements typically reserved for the finest megayachts.

Skylounge design by Patrick Knowles Design. Credit: Alexis Andrews
Skylounge design by Patrick Knowles Design. Credit: Alexis Andrews

BRENON

What excites you most about the future of yacht design?

PATRICK

Today, I am most excited about the quantum shift we will see in the very near future when 5G technology becomes firmly integrated into our daily life (there are pros and cons) but strictly from a design, aesthetic and experiential standpoint, I eagerly await how this frontier of technology is going to reinvent how we live in our environment. 

The integration of occupant and the living space will take a very huge and fast leap forward, and I am thoroughly excited about that!

Yacht design concept seamlessly blending the living area with the outside environment. Credit: PKD
Yacht design concept seamlessly blending the living area with the outside environment. Credit: PKD

BRENON

How can you be contacted and where can people find more information on Patrick Knowles Design?

PATRICK

For more information on Patrick Knowles Designs, please email info[at]patrickknowlesdesigns.com or visit patrickknowlesdesigns.com

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