Quick five questions with Tim Heywood, Founder of Tim Heywood Designs

Your Career has spanned decades during which time you’ve witnessed the birth of the ‘superyacht’ industry. How did you avoid becoming a vast conglomerate and stay so nimble?

My career began 50 odd years ago when I began working for Jon Bannenberg in Chelsea. After several years, Jon would send me to meet with new clients and follow the project to completion working, mostly, on my own. When I set up my own studio with Vanessa, my business partner and now my wife, I followed the same formula. I did try subcontracting drawing work on two occasions, but the results were disappointing and I realised that I could produce the drawings quicker than meeting with draughtsmen and explaining what I wanted, so I continued to design and draw on my own. 
When you love the process of design conception as much as I do, the creation of presentation and explanatory drawings is a very enjoyable process and I never think of the time involved as a chore, it is in fact an honour to produce drawings that will be converted into steel and aluminium by yacht building craftsmen.
Pelorus by Tim Heywood

Has there been anything you wanted to create, like a space rocket launcher from a boat or something equally as crazy and haven’t done? or have you done everything you’ve always imagined ?

Once you have ‘landed’ a project and the contract is signed, I can make suggestions which sometimes the client may adopt, but there will be an additional charge from the yard, so the extras have to be carefully considered and presented. I have successfully added underwater viewing rooms, anti paparazzi lights, water cannons, additional helicopter pads and submarines, to name a few.
MY Event by Tim Heywood

What are your golden rules for the best interior layout for a yacht and have those rules changed with the size of the boats being built now?

Most of my projects begin with the interior layout and I have always considered the function of all areas of primary importance. One of the most important functions of a yacht is to provide privacy for the owners and their guests, so all guest and crew areas must function totally separately, but still provide interaction opportunities where required. The owners must be able to access the wheelhouse easily and the stewardesses must be able to access the owners’ cabin without difficulty, to provide all the services that are required. 
Even in these areas there will be specific owner required functions of interactions. I had one client who required direct access from his cabin to the crew mess as his last act of the day was to have a nightcap with his crew and discuss the day’s events.
The arrangement of escape routes and technical spaces, must be considered and planned for, in each fire zone of each deck
No matter what size the yacht, these layout requirements are fundamental and remain the foundation for a successful interior. At this early stage a designer needs to consider and decide on the structural frame sizes to align the bulkheads and to develop the fenestration successfully.
Topaz (now A+) by Klaus Jordan

Tell us about the most challenging project you have ever worked on and what made it so challenging?

Every project presents its own challenges, some more than others. Each project is the result of the clients’ requirements and when those requirements change, the designer may have to jump a few additional hurdles. 
Many years ago we had a client who found it difficult to make up his mind regarding the decoration of two guest cabins. These cabins were eventually completed, with bulkhead panels and fitted furniture veneered in satin lacquered finished, Birds Eye Maple. He then decided that he did not like the results and that the cabins should be finished in gloss green lacquer. Several green lacquer panels were prepared and presented, one shade was chosen and the cabins were painted. On seeing the results he informed me that the wrong green had been used. I showed him the previous sample panels and his signature on the back of the chosen panel. He told me that this was not his signature and that it was a forgery. He then decided on a different shade of green. 
After this new shade was applied, he then decided he did not like it and that the cabins should be finished in Birds Eye Maple…

Another circular problem, ending up where we started…

Do you think superyachts will one day be totally powered by green energy or are we still decades away from that?

I do believe that ‘green energy’ is very close, of course sail yachts are already much greener than motor yachts, but the advances in clean engines are many. 2024 should see the first commercial marine two-stroke ammonia engines available and green or e-methanol fuel powered marine engines are, now, very close indeed. 
Everyone in the industry, including the clients, is working with this goal in mind, we all need to respect our environment and try to repair the damage already inflicted on our fragile world.
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