PHOTOS: KLAUS JORDAN
“It should be home-like.”
That’s the philosophy of Glade Johnson, the renowned designer, when it comes to a yacht’s interior design. His simple words are particularly fitting in this era of super-size superyachts, where TV lounges are ballroom-like spaces aboard some vessels. Indeed, the sheer size of some yachts makes it all too easy for rooms to become overwhelming and the yacht to lose intimacy. And when you think about it, shouldn’t a yacht be intimate? It’s a private retreat, an escape to be enjoyed with a handful of close friends and family, not half the continent… so, as Johnson so simply put it, why arrange the spaces any other way?
A good example of Johnson’s philosophy is the Lürssen-built, 60-meter (197-foot) Solemates, delivered this past summer. Commissioned by experienced owners, she’s a step up in volume from their previous same-named yacht, a 52-meter (171-footer). Collectively, they, Johnson, and Lürssen have ensured that Solemates steers clear of being overwhelming and embraces some practical touches that those of us living on land can appreciate.
Take, for example, the casual lounge, a.k.a. the skylounge. There’s the customary TV rising from cabinetry opposite the seating area… but not a traditional pop-up. Rather, the television rises just enough to enhance the movie-watching experience. This is sure to be appreciated by those sitting elsewhere in the room, since the unit doesn’t dominate. There’s also no need to raise the television in the first place. As you can conclude from the photo below, the screen is visible even when it’s in the down position. It’s been quite some time since I was aboard a yacht that didn’t treat TVs as if they were eyesores, in need of being hidden more often than not. When you think about it, given the increasing popularity of wall-mounted televisions, clearly not every household hides them away, either.
Also like many fine homes, and nearly all yachts this size, Solemates has an office in the owner’s suite, forward on the main deck. Since the yacht started as a sistership to Linda Lou, the suite’s original layout included a passage bypassing the office. The owners and Johnson didn’t find this practical, however. They changed the configuration to let the owners instead walk through the office to access the bedroom.
The practical touches also extend to the crew’s needs. Since Solemates can accommodate 12 in the owner’s party or a charter party, the crew requested that the galley have counter space able to hold that many plates simultaneously. It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many megayachts don’t allow the chefs and stews to stage that number. Now, don’t misunderstand… the point is not that the shorter and narrower counters, like the one from Linda Lou’s specs, are a hindrance. It’s just that they’re just not as handy as they can be. Johnson therefore designed a longer and wider—two plates’ worth—countertop. The chef is quite happy with the results, as well as the abundance of stowage here and below decks (extra dry stores, plus walk-in refrigerators and freezers).
One of the most significant examples of sensible design is something most visitors aboard Solemates won’t see, yet it’s become a trademark of Lürssen’s. It’s access to the backs of the washers and dryers in the crew area. A door adjacent to the machinery reveals steps up to a nearly full-standing area behind them. Lürssen recognizes that equipment only gets maintained when it’s convenient to reach. Related to this, fires occur in homes due to lint vents failing to be cleaned… no need to risk that out on the ocean.
Even with the emphasis on sensible design, Solemates still reflects the idea that a little flair is good for the soul. To that end, the gym converts to a disco. In addition, the woods and other decorative materials used throughout command attention yet without screaming for it. Medium-tone maple burl, anigre, and wenge are combined in nearly every area, sometimes as flooring. The names of some of the onyxes and marbles employed hint at their vibrancy: names like Cappuccino and Fantastic Opera. There’s an abundance of artistic glass aboard, too.
Here’s more of Solemates, including looks at some of her five guest staterooms, the owner’s suite, and both indoor and outdoor relaxation areas.