BEHIND THE MIND OF AN ENFANT TERRIBLE IN YACHTING

Coined l'enfant terrible in the super yacht industry for his somewhat controversial and daring designs, it is time to delve into the mind of Alexander McDiarmid, whose creativity is constantly at the forefront to outdo the norm and whose 3 ½ year old son is his biggest critic. Is it a case of the good, the bad and the ugly, or simply genius? We let you decide.

Who is Alexander McDiarmid in your own words?
A humble design merchant serving his clients as a purveyor of creativity.

Who is Alexander McDiarmid to the outside world?
“Beautiful designs.”
“Incredible design from an incredible designer. Truly spectacular.”
Some might say audacious. You have to be if you want to achieve anything great in life.

When did you know you were a born designer?
I had an early Montessori education and remember overhearing the teacher talking with my mother regarding something that I had created that day. Later on, brilliant high school teachers who encouraged and pushed me. Industrial design is in the middle of the art and science spectrum so it made sense to study the subject.

Where does your creativity stem from?
They say the creative adult is the child who survived. As the son of an engineer and private chef, I was always reading about how things work, drawing with my father’s drafting equipment and building things, all while watching beautiful, edible creations come to life.

Five words to describe your design style/ethos.
I don’t have a style. That’s five words.
Designers should not follow trends especially not for superyacht design. 

Take pride in your work and set yourself apart from the rest. Trends fade, style lasts.

Do you think your personal or professional parcours has shaped who you are?
Absolutely and you are continually shaped by your environment and experiences both professional and personal. Long standing industry friends who have and continue to be with me from the start of which I am very grateful for their continued influence, help and guidance.

What rocks your boat in terms of design? Not necessarily yachting related…
I love aviation design, fast jets in particular, military and civil design. Car design, futurism, absolute crisp graphic design and beautiful furniture design. I find angles, surfaces, details and symmetry exciting yet all very soothing.

Who branded you with “enfant terrible” and do you think you are?
A Canadian luxury lifestyle journalist based in Shanghai, Stephan Luc Larose. He was one of the first journalists to see my early concepts and feature them in a Chinese yachting article. Shortly afterwards Michael Howorth of Superyacht News amongst others and it stuck. It is a label but very humbling at the same time. I guess it’s a reflection of my work in what is still a very conservative yachting industry. A rebel with a design cause you could say.

What is your stance of the yacht designs we currently see at sea?
We are in a sea of utter mediocrity with regards to the majority of current yacht design. While there are some gems out there they remain few and far between. I’m always curious to see the differences in exterior design and styling solutions by Naval Architects and Industrial Designers. You cannot command both disciplines and expect great results yet sadly it occurs all too often. When you read certain comments in the yachting press you can perhaps see why many yachts look the same: I try to repeat some details that I’m particularly fond of but give them a new twist and make a little change here and there to make it more original and ensure that the clients feel that they’re getting something completely different.
The continued selling of on-spec, usually white or beige, same-as-it-ever-was yachts to repeat customers seem to be the only profiles that regularly move and keep the industry afloat. With the arrival of M/Y A and more recently S/Y A these are true bespoke superyachts in every sense of the word. Not just for their LOA or size as is often the case, but fresh design thinking by their brave, innovative and visionary owner. They are by no means to everybody’s taste but that really does not matter.

Name one factor that makes your projects unique or is their unique selling point?
I’m very lucky to have an imagination and often just joining the dots by making relevant connections.

What is the next step in yacht design?
Introduction and integration of the new and next generation of owners who will bring their visions of yacht design to the industry. It is the job of the designer to provide intelligent solutions for their clients and even the most adventurous designs can be regulated. Reading a recent interview with one of the main brokerage companies who in describing the next generation of new build owners concluded:

They like daring designs, and they don’t want to own a yacht like their grandad’s.

What’s your favourite yacht design to date?
The one we are currently working on. It’s pretty. And daring.

Who loves/loathes your designs?
My son. At 3 ½ years old you will not find a more honest design critic. However it has always been and continues to be a succinctly love or hate reaction to my work. I have heard that there are some traditionalists in the yachting industry but things are changing.

Ecological yachts - your take on them?
I don’t think we will ever see a true ecological yacht if you think about the materials that go into the construction. It’s clever ‘Green Marketing’ industry wide but we do need cleaner propulsion and stricter sustainability in material choices. They say 25-30 years for electric aviation solutions so a similar time for yacht propulsion. You cannot rush chemistry in terms of battery technology so we are still a long way off from being able to power and propel a 100m+ superyacht by battery alone.

If you could have any yacht in the world, which one would it be and why?
If I could be an owner for the day only… Christina O, the original superyacht and to sit at ‘Ari's Bar’, created by the original superyacht owner. She was originally a WWII anti-submarine River-class frigate. True visionary, conversion thinking for the time by her owner, old school elegance.

What in your mind are the key amenities any yacht should have?
Owning a yacht should be fun above all else. Amenitiessuch as light, space, volume, comfort, privacy, relaxation should contribute to this enjoyment. Heli deck, beach deck, wellness area, submarine and a well stocked tender garage of toys. Dare I say some real innovation too?

Client vs Designer or Designer vs Client?
Client is always King & Queen. It will always be their yacht design project. But a designer must have the crucial ability to say ‘No’ to their clients if needed. If the laws of physics or manufacturing dictate something cannot be done… Find a solution.

What do you do to make the world a better place?

For the design world I try to give younger designers their first experience and opportunity in the industry. I remember that feeling landing my first design job and starting my career. For the real world, Aix-en-Provence is a very wealthy society bubble and with this comes a lot of homelessness. We regularly bring food and water to those who need it especially during the current heatwave. In general I am a stickler for recycling also.

Outside of the realm of design, what do you enjoy?
My wonderful wife and our family time. Watching our two young, bilingual children growing up, their creativity astounds me. Also cooking. We have beautiful fresh, local and seasonal ingredients here in the South of France. The French really know how to live well.

Your favourite spot in the world?
Our ‘Mas’ home set amongst the olive and almond groves of Provence. We are on the ‘Route des vins’ and spoilt for choice with Côtes de Provence.

What is one question you would like to be asked, that has yet to be asked and what is the answer?
Do you have a design hero? Industrial Designer Raymond Loewy for the magnitude of his design projects across a variety of industries. He dreamed big and made the 20th Century beautiful.

www.alexandermcdiarmid.com

For more information contact Natalia Langsdale of Bright Creativity.

NIO EP9 - The fastest electric car in the world

On February 23, the NIO EP9 drove the fastest ever autonomous lap at the Circuit of the Americas Race Track in Austin, Texas. Driving autonomously without any interventions, recording a time of 2m 40.33s (two minutes, 40.33 seconds) at a top speed of 160 mph. The same day, the NIO EP9 also beat the fastest COTA lap time for a production car with a driver, achieving a lap time of 2m 11.30s (two minutes, 11.30 seconds) and reaching a top speed of 170 mph.

The technology and software which delivered the world’s fastest autonomous lap was developed by the engineers at NIO U.S. headquartered in Silicon Valley. This tremendous feat was accomplished from start to finish in just 4 months.

A few months ago, on October 12, 2016, the NIO EP9 set a record at the Nürburgring Nordschliefe and lapped the 20.8km ‘Green Hell’ in 7m 05.12s, making it the fastest electric car in the world.

With four high-performance inboard motors and four individual gearboxes, the EP9 delivers 1-MegaWatt of power, equivalent to 1360PS (1342BHP). The EP9 accelerates from 0-124 mph in 7.1 seconds and has a top speed of 194 miles per hour. With an interchangeable battery system, the EP9 is designed to be charged in 45 minutes and has a range of 265 miles.

Padmasree Warrior, CEO of NIO U.S said, “At NIO, we are all about raising the bar for the entire automotive industry. Breaking records with the NIO EP9 demonstrates our automotive and technology expertise to be a leader in the global market. Our Silicon Valley team brings together the best talent from automotive and software domains, which helped us achieve this remarkable result in an incredibly short time. Our goal is to be the best next generation car company, by delivering autonomous vehicles with amazing experiences for people all over the world. We look forward to sharing our vision for the car of the future in Austin, Texas at SXSW in March.”

COTA COO, Katja Heims said: “We are honored to be a part of NIO’s amazing lap record and see performance and autonomy coexist. We all know that autonomous vehicles are part of the future and this new record is further proof.”

Drive de Cartier Moon Phases & Extra-Flat

Last year at SIHH Cartier presented the men's Drive de Cartier collection featuring an all new cushion shaped case which found quickly a lot of fans around the globe. This year, Cartier added two more models with the Cartier Drive de Cartier Moon Phases watch and the Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat. 

Drive de Cartier Moon Phases is fitted with the new Manufacture movement 1904-LU MC. A distinctive moonphase complication displayed at 6 o’clock tracks the cycle of new moons, half moons and full moons. This extraordinarily precise complication is known as “astronomic”, needing to be corrected by one day every 125 years. The Drive de Cartier Moon Phases watch stays true to the signature aesthetic of the Drive de Cartier collection: wearability. With a convex curved glass case and uncluttered white guilloché dial, it is available in pink gold or steel. This timepiece lends an unaffected touch of sophistication to everyday mechanics.

Less is more in the Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat watch, whose slender profile hugs the wrist, ensuring a suave, discreet accessory beneath the sleeve of a dinner jacket. Minimalism is the standout feature of this watch. At less than 7 mm thick, it is 40% slimmer than the original model. Clean lines are enhanced by the sunray satin-finish dial, flat sapphire crystal, and finely crafted alligator-skin strap, which stylishly showcase the cushion-shaped case of the watch. Understated design, an extra-flat profile and refined proportions make this a perfect choice for the first men’s evening watch in the collection. The Drive de Cartier Extra-Flat watch is fitted with a mechanical movement with manual winding 430 MC. Available in pink gold, or in a limited edition of 200 pieces in white gold.

Into DeLaneau's Romantic Time

The holiday season is the perfect time to fall in love. It's the time DeLaneau has chosen to bring to you a bouquet of roses, filled with our sincere thoughts and devotion.

The pink rose is a symbol of gentleness, loyalty and feminine beauty. The flower can express feelings of love, but in a more delicate sense than the red rose. It is with such delicacy that the DeLaneau Romantic Time pièce unique watch was created, capturing the sweetness of the feeling of love. This timepiece conveys an illusion of suspended time, an exchange between two people without the need for words, symbolized by a bouquet of pink roses. 

The design, the choice of colours and the gracefulness of the diamonds strengthen this idea of lightness and serenity. Looking at the dial, one could almost imagine a budding love affair or an adolescent romance. Everything in this timepiece is innocent and tender, just like a bouquet of pink roses given to a loved one to express feelings of affection. 

To capture this image, our artisan enamellist chose the grisaille method on a base of pink enamel. This technique presented the unique challenge of highlighting the contrasts on a very pale-coloured base. Our enamellist felt that she had to force them out of the pink enamel – something that seemed to be in total contradiction with the soul of the creation itself. The result is a delicate balance between the enamel and the fire, which reminds us of a relationship with a loved one – where acceptance and sharing are central to harmony.

This delightful timepiece is housed in a white gold Dôme case set with 297 diamonds and features a diamond-set crown. The timepiece also has an automatic movement and an alligator strap with a white gold deploying buckle set with 24 diamonds.

We invite you to discover the universe of DeLaneau on their website at www.delaneau.com. Find out more about their co-creation process and see how this timepiece came to life.

PURE DESIGN

The ‘La camicia bianca secondo me’ exhibition is opening in Milan tomorrow, so here is an updated version of our tribute to the unique style of Gianfranco Ferré, publidhed on Class of its Own issue 05.

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