Prior to founding her Fort Lauderdale-based interior design firm in 2004, Destry Darr refined her skills as an interior designer for several world-class, well-known yacht interior design firms. Since then, Destry has overseen nearly 300 yacht design projects – both new construction and refit – and has honed her expertise to rank among the world’s leading professional yacht interior designers. We managed to sit down with the busy designer between client meetings, materials sourcing and final installations to ask a few questions about yacht design tips, interior design advice, and what insight she can impart as a professional yacht designer.
Q. Do you have any favorite yacht design projects?
Hannah (Westport 112) This yacht was a departure in style from the look that has been popular in recent years and I absolutely loved the opportunity to work on a fresh new look. This project was a comprehensive, “gut-n-chuck” refit along with complete outfitting for personal and charter use. See before and after photos here. It was also challenging because it was done right at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Clients always have an effect on how much I enjoy a project and these clients and Captain were wonderful to work with.
Stay Salty (161’ Trinity) This was another project that was underway during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and was challenging in that it had to be completed within four weeks! What I like to call a “fluff-n-puff” refit, this project involved changing out the entire interior decor and completely outfitting the yacht. It was a lot of work that required our entire team and an incredible team of trusted contractors to pull off. Challenges such as these are very exhilarating to me! Because of the quick turnaround, the owners trusted us to get it done without approval on many things. Seeing how overjoyed the owners were when they came on board made all the hard work, weekends and late nights worthwhile!
Lady Bee (142’ Christensen) This was a very big refit. The owners knew what they wanted and pushed us to reach their desired look. It was a welcome challenge to take the contemporary styling of the existing interior and achieve the more traditional desired look. Read more about this project here.
Paikea II (64’ Grand Banks) While this was a small boat, it was a big refit with BIG challenges – such as converting an office to a twin stateroom which required working with fractions of inches. In the end, we completely changed the look and function of the interior and I very much enjoyed working with this fun client and laid-back Captain.
Q. What advice Do You Give your yacht refit clients?
- The scope. Determine what type of refit the vessel requires – is this a “fluff-n-puff” or will it be an extensive “gut-n-chuck” project? A well defined, clear and detailed project scope when planning a yacht refit will allow for precise specifications to each of the various contractors involved, which is necessary to obtain comprehensive quotes. What appears to be a lower priced quote may very well just not be inclusive due to a lack of information.
- The budget. The budget for a yacht refit project must be realistic and should contain a contingency for unforeseen conditions. The owner should acknowledge their budget and be honest with their team, the designer and the Captain.
- The team. Once a realistic budget for the yacht refit project is determined and how it will be allotted, plan accordingly and engage the appropriate professionals who can ensure that the refit does not expand beyond control. Prior to the start, the owner-designer-captain-shipyard team must be certain of the desired end result.
- The communication. Just as every little change during a yacht refit project will affect something else, each contractor’s work affects another’s. Weekly onboard meetings with all of the contractors involved, as a group, will uncover possible bottlenecks in the process early on that can affect the budget or schedule. Identifying these obstacles will allow for swift reorganization, minimizing lost time and getting the yacht refit project back on schedule.
Q. ANY favorite new yacht construction projects?
Westport 125 Castlefinn was a spec build – which means it was built without a client. As for a brief, Daryl Wakefield, the President of Westport, simply told me to “wow” him. Read more about this project here.
Nordhavn Serenity The owner of this yacht would say, “More design! More design!” and encouraged me to push the envelope in terms of space planning and layout so that his large family and their affinity for cooking and lounging could be accommodated. Read more about this project here.
Nordhavn VivieRae II The owner of the 96’ Nordhavn VivieRae II inspired me to get creative with glass and lighting. Read more about this project here.
Nordhavn Aurora was the first 120’ Nordhavn built. It was a challenge to redesign the vessel after the change in initial ownership and a challenge to get everything the owners desired into their galley. Read more about this project here.
87’ Outer Reef Ti Punch The owners of the 87’ Outer Reef Ti Punch wanted to pivot away from the typical traditional Outer Reef design for a much more contemporary look to suit their taste. Read more about this project here.