With small dimensions, cabin conundrums and the needs of the crew to contend with, designing a boat is no mean feat. Here, owner and interior designer, Veronika Blomgren, reveals her vision for sailing vessel Alexa; plus we round-up the best of the rest.
“I designed Alexa like I would a house”, recalls Blomgren, who three years ago transformed a traditional phinisi into an elegant charter yacht for two. “First and foremost I was guided by aesthetics – which work at sea just as they do on land – and the desire to give guests as many beautiful experiences as possible during a stay.” Which goes some way towards explaining why Blomgren painted the 30-metre long boat white and has furnished the single cabin with textiles from India, artefacts from the island of Sulawesi and lighting that she designed herself.
She also added a balcony to the bedroom (which is on the upper deck because “I believe you have to be able to sleep under the stars”) for a private breakfast or as a quiet reading spot in the heat of the day; kept the indoor living space small (guests spend most of their time out on deck); and created a spacious open-plan galley kitchen (“a happy crew is the most important part of a boat project”). Of her decision to have just one cabin, she says: “When planning the layout an architect is not just drawing lines, but imagining what life onboard will be like. Privacy was essential and I wanted guests’ movement throughout the day to be absolutely harmonious.” alexaprivatecruises.com
If your sea legs are twitching, here are four more beautiful boats to get onboard with…
A floating hotel on water, Aqua Mekong has 20 suites with teak floors, slate-grey walls and tan leather chairs. This tranquil look is down to the Saigon-based architects at Noor Design, who used local, sustainable materials and artisanal touches to add Indochine character to the spaces. The top deck comprises a glass-walled bar lounge with a contemporary interpretation of the region’s woven can planter chairs, a games room, cinema, gym and plunge pool.
Inspired by the Indonesian phinisi sailing vessels that were used on the spice trading routes, the five-cabin, twin-masted Silolona is the vision of extraordinary owner Patti Seery, who commissioned an architect and a group of traditional boat Konjo builders on the island of Sulawesi. Her walls are lined with original 16th-century maps and charts of South East Asia and there are Chinese trade ceramics scattered about.
The biggest traditional sailing boat ever built in Indonesia, the 65-metre Lamima was designed by Spanish yacht architect Marcelo Penna and is available exclusively for private charter. She has an iron wood hull, a teak deck and seven contemporary cabins, each with a wood panelled feature wall and traditional Indonesian Ikat throws on the bed.
Hardwood floors, designer furniture and handmade Peruvian artefacts are all to be found on Delfin III, the newest ship in the three-strong Delfin fleet that sails the Amazon (it’s also the largest with 22 cabins). In the Canopy lounge, as in the cabins, walls are painted in a neutral palette so that the eye is drawn to the floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows and the scenery passing by.
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London-based freelance journalist Emma Love specialises in writing about interiors, design and travel for titles such as Elle Decoration and Condé Nast Traveller, where she is a contributing editor. She also writes for publications such as the Financial Times and the Guardian.