Foreword by Dick Beaumont Chairman of Kraken Yachts
Over the past 4 years, Kraken’s have been test sailed and reviewed by most, if not all, of the world’s top sailing publications, as well as dozens of clients and visiting sailors. In all of the comments and articles written about our yachts, there has only ever been one slightly negative comment made. Toby Hodges, in his heavy weather test review of White Dragon in Yachting Word, heaped praise on every aspect of our flagships 66s’ design, construction, handling and sailing performance, but concluded by saying ‘the interior styling was perhaps a little dated’. ‘Classic Toby, classic,’ I protested.
Stung by even the slightest criticism of any element of our wonderful yachts, I immediately went in search of a top-line interior designer to correct this possible flaw. It wasn’t an easy task and I struggled to find the right fit. Many had a good eye and a honed ability to match colours of wood, veneers, vinyls and composites, but I felt none of them fully understood the need to combine style, durability and the functionality needed in a Kraken yacht to sail across oceans.
When Donna Maree submitted her first shot render of a Kraken 50 master cabin I called the team and said ‘She’s got it’!
I’d like to introduce you to Donna Marree and the interior designs we have all worked with her to develop.
A new look
Toby was right, and now Donna’s designs have added the last piece to the Kraken Yacht puzzle. After completing the interior design of the new Kraken 50 version 2 in mountain cherry, as featured in our Birth of a Blue Water Yacht series, she has now gone on to begin the interior design of the next K50 in Afromosia and another in American white oak.
From superyacht saloons to cruisers cabins, Donna Maree converts ideas into interiors. Her parents realised she had a special talent for drawing and design at a very young age, she told Dick Durham…
The daughter of farmers who’s herd roamed the rolling acres south of Lake Taupo on New Zealand’s North Island, Donna admits it was ‘weird,’ that she became interested in boats, but, as with most Kiwi’s, salt runs deep in her veins.
After a ‘rural upbringing and a rural High School education,’ she left the farm for Auckland and studied architecture, but she still had a yearning for boats and took a correspondence course in naval architecture. A keen windsurfer, Donna, made friends with two naval architects who also enjoyed the sport, and eventually found herself working for the prestigious award-winning Alloy Yachts Company before going on to found her own firm, Donna Maree Yacht Interior Design, which has led her to work with top yacht designers, including Ed Dubois and Kevin Dibley.
‘It is so much more challenging creating interiors for boats rather than buildings,’ she said, ‘There are all the safety standard requirements as well as the ergonomics needed to mould together aesthetics with practicalities…it is a lot more creative.’
Although she has drawn stunning interiors for boats such as the 44m superyacht Encore; the 34m Silvertip and the giant ketch Thalia, she says charter boats such as the 87ft ketch Yonder Star and the smaller cruisers such as the Cheoy Lee 53 footer, Cetacea, are a greater trial for a designer as space has to be maximised as much as possible.
Donna says an interior yacht designer needs to have a ‘good neck’ for knowing what the client wants. She is something of a design psychologist, she interviews her clients and uses personal intuition before making any sketches.
She then moves onto storyboarding the interior and finally offers a ‘digital rendering’ ie computer displayed images of the final look.
To achieve a ‘seamless’ vision she works, not just with the yacht builders and their clients but also with the project managers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, electronic experts, sailmakers and riggers to produce the correct ‘palette’.
Her work with superyachts taught her that design trends go in cycles: ‘Alloy Yachts were ahead of their time…many boat builders around the world followed their inspirational interiors’.
‘European yacht owners tend towards lighter interiors while US clients often prefer much darker wood finishes, but it’s up to the client’s preference, there are no hard and fast rules. One American couple’s yacht I worked on had a white ship-lap for their interior’.
For Kraken Yachts, Donna has worked up palettes of white oak, mountain cherry, afromosia or teak panelling with oak or dark walnut for cabin soles.
‘Dick Beaumont (Chairman of Kraken Yachts) wants perfection for the interior design of his ocean sailing yachts and we continually re-draw, improve and re-assess each area until we are all agreed on the best possible use of the space and the styling’ she said.
‘Developing an interior design for the Kraken fleet requires a different approach as Dick wants a defined Kraken styling for all of their yachts. They have a unique modular approach to a yacht’s interior layout. They define the interior as three separate sections; the aft master cabin and galley, module A; the saloon, module B; the accommodation area forward of the mast, module C . We then develop three alternative layout designs for each module and the client can then choose any one of the three alternatives for each module.
The value this adds is that we have already worked out the best three layouts possible for each area, so the client can configure their yacht secure in the knowledge that they have maximised the use of space for their specific requirements’.
Choices in fabric colour and texture for boat interiors often start out on the fashion walks in Milan, Donna told Ocean Sailor.
To relax Donna sails a dayboat on Lake Taupo and she lives at the family dairy farm which is now run by brother Tony.