The Future of Yacht Interior Design

Millennials & Gen Z: The next generation yacht design

The incoming wave of younger owners is stirring things up in yacht interior design. As designers, we are being challenged to re-assess traditional design concepts and respond to the changing desires and lifestyles of a younger clientele. So, how do we design – or refit – for this next generation yacht design?

Bring the Outside in

Getting out into nature makes one feel better physically and mentally. That isn’t news. But this adage of “getting fresh air” is now being incorporated into yacht interior design concepts, specifically in Biophilic design. Taking inspiration from the natural world, the Biophilic design concept combines sustainability and wellness. Younger generations recognize this need to optimize their environments for well-being. Increasing human connectivity to nature can be achieved through themes, textures, colors and shapes, which we represented through the ‘nautical chic interior’ themes and colors aboard the 161’ Trinity Stay Salty. The subtle connection with the ocean is represented in decorative items throughout – like the angelfish knick knacks that foster this attachment to the ocean.

Another method of embodying the ocean inside is seen in the 142’ Christensen Lady Bee refit, within which we incorporated glass satin panels, etched waves, and swirling neutrals.

While my team isn’t always able to change the yacht’s window size, we do what we can when maximizing light exposure within the interior, be it removing heavy window coverings and valences or adding more windows, such as in the aft section of the main salon aboard the 112’ Westport Hannah. Newer vessels, like the 130’ Westport Rule No.1, have large windows that allow us to maximize natural light. 


Shared ownership of yachts is becoming increasingly familiar. While many younger owners can afford to buy a yacht, sometimes this isn’t worthwhile as they lack the time; therefore, shared ownership is more advantageous. But what about this next generation yacht design? Co-ownership means the design must encapsulate different tastes and styles without compromising personal needs – this is easier said than done. The design needs to reflect a younger crowd and vibe to please those who will be co-owning. I particularly considered this when designing Rule No. 1 for my younger clients who offer the yacht for charter. I created a style that gives off relaxation while epitomizing that cool factor simultaneously. 


Undeniably, the younger generation is setting its sights on a better future. Who can blame them? They are the demand driving greener technology and making choices in favor of newer, sustainable materials. When it comes to yacht interior design, we all need to take a more environmentally-conscious approach, making nature and natural resources part of the design. We are currently working on a very exciting project for an owner who has requested sustainable, environmentally-friendly materials incorporated wherever possible. Stay tuned for more details on the refit of the 112’ Westport Emilia!


Today, experience comes first. The younger generation wants to feel more connected and desires more off-the-beaten-track itineraries and once-in-a-lifetime adventures in place of popular milk-run itineraries. On Rule No. 1, we used artwork that reflected experiences and destinations rather than traditional artwork. Stay Salty was a yacht designed based on adventure and family fun, with large deck space and interior lounging areas. Yacht interiors must also be durable and usable to stand up to an adventure. I always use durable materials onboard, especially in frequently used areas.


A yacht means more to the younger generations than sitting pretty at anchor in the “place to be.” This next generation yacht design is now about function and form. Today’s owner wants plenty of friends onboard, a fantastic chef, a DJ and entertainment spaces, but also wants somewhere to work out, meditate, lounge and switch off. To have areas that transition between relaxation, sports and entertainment is essential.

We are slowly saying goodbye to the rigid formal dining spaces and replacing them with less traditional spaces, such as aboard the 87’ Outer Reef Ti Punch, where we adapted the dining area to accommodate the owner’s desire for a more open galley.

We are also seeing a lot of older yachts on the market that require a refit, such as Lady Bee, currently undergoing a Heesen refit to reflect the newer, younger owner’s desire for Art Deco style. We also converted a traditional interior to a younger style of Nantucket chic on Montrachet. You no longer need to gut a yacht completely when refitting it. Working with a versatile designer like myself means I can help you transition the interior into your design style, whatever that may be. 

While every yacht client is different – even aside from their age – we know that design is ever-evolving, and we are here to cater to this next generation yacht design and excited for what the future holds.  

Read more about properly executing your design style in my blog post, Striking a Balance Between Design and Desire.

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About the Author

About the Author

Destry Darr Pethtel is an award-winning interior designer based in Florida. Her designs have been featured in several luxury yacht publications such as Showboats, Boat International, Yachts International, Yachting, Luxe Magazine to name just a few! Read More About Destry >>

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