Patrick Knowles
Patrick Knowles

Advice From A Leading Yacht Designer

What you need to know about colors, fabrics, and more.

Patrick Knowles Designs conceives and builds custom interiors for yachts. Before the company’s namesake got into this business in 1989, he designed aircraft interiors for private clients. He has been a winner in the World Superyacht Awards and ShowBoats International Awards. Speaking to us from his Fort Lauderdale, Florida office, he told us what yacht owners need to know. 

What's the most important design element a new yacht owner should consider?
Knowing how they're going to use the boat and interact with the water will dictate the materials and surfacing, which will drive the design. 

What's the biggest mistake a client can make with design?
To engage in a design project after construction of the boat has already begun. That can create massive change orders. 

When you're deciding on colors, what's important? 
Palettes selected should be very neutral, very monochromatic. Expressions usually come through accents—art, sculpture, or unique furnishings. We're not so much a society of bright and loud. It's very subdued, soft tones. Color palettes should be symbiotic with the water and sky, from greens to blues—very appropriate and they induce relaxation.

What about fabrics? Which hold up best?
More and more, we are dealing with solution-dyed acrylic, a staple in many textile lines because of the durability and stability of these fabrics. And they look smart.

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How many years does a yacht interior normally last before it needs an update?
Some boats that I designed 12 years ago are still in the original condition and maintained very well. Often, it's not a matter of when [an interior wears out]; it's that trends and designs have changed. 

What's the biggest difference between airplane design and marine design?
Designing according to FAA regulations is quite different from designing to maritime authority regulations. You have tremendous restrictions when designing under the authority of the FAA, plus, you’re usually dealing with a more limited space.