FLYING FOX - "She's a home from home"

In conversation with Espen Oeino & Mark Berryman

Delivered in May 2019 and knows as the largest yacht available for charter, Lurssen 136-metre FLYING FOX has more to offer than her size.
Behind the juxtaposition of feeling intimate despite the spacious size: Espen Øino and Mark Berryman. They reveal the key design features from the 400-square-metre spa set over two floors to the use of four metre trees to create a zen, homely feel. Alongside, the designers created the perfect yacht to charter: 136 metres of majestic elegance! Between their inspirations, challenges and extreme attention to details… Discover FLYING FOX through the eyes of her designers.


What are unique challenges involved in the design of such a large yacht?
Espen Øino In terms of function, one of the key challenges on a large superyacht is to make sure that there are intimate spaces; that you never feel lost; that there are logical and meaningful ways of moving around the boat, so that first-time visitors will intuitively know how to reach where they want to be. Of course, you can create more of those spaces – spaces that are both functional and adaptable to different situations, and you can equip them differently too. For instance, in the case of FLYING FOX, there’s an all-inclusive 400-square-metre spa set over two floors, as well as outside cooking spaces for a more active (and interactive) lifestyle. You have lots of toys and watersports equipment both for above and below the water, including a professional dive centre with decompression chamber – but the real trick is to provide all of that in a way that still enables you to feel comfortable.
Mark Berryman Yes, that comfort element is absolutely central. I’ve always been a big fan of Japanese design. Whether it’s interiors, architecture or gardens, if you go to Japan and walk around, there is just something about it that seems to lower your blood pressure. I like the contemporary side of design too but, beyond anything else, superyachts need to be comfortable; they need to be relaxing. The people who are fortunate enough to be able to build these things are using them for downtime and often, their jobs don’t enable them to get much of that, so they need to walk into
a space and feel completely relaxed.

So FLYING FOX has been designed to feel welcoming and accessible?
MB Very much so. There’s certainly still a strong market for heavily embellished superyachts with lots of detail, but some of the superyachts out there make me feel uneasy. I feel like I’m not invited to sit down, because they look so perfect and pristine, like untouchable show homes. I want to step onto a boat, kick off my shoes, walk barefoot across the floors and slump into whatever sofa I fancy. Our neutral backdrop, our natural materials and our favouring of simplicity over ostentation, invite you to do just that.
EO Yes, it’s the choice of materials, the finishing of the materials, a lot of natural wood and stone. It doesn’t feel in any way ostentatious or aloof – and that’s the paradox. This is a superyacht made plain; something exclusive made accessible; a superyacht full of natural elements, natural materials, big trees and plants. That’s part of what makes it feel so fresh and different. But we’ve also been careful to avoid letting the sheer scale of things become intimidating. After all, FLYING FOX is a big superyacht – very large, wide and deep. But we’ve made sure that the transom is very inclined and the freeboard on the main deck level is quite low, so it doesn’t feel intimidating to swim off the back of the boat. That’s what you try to do – you make it to a human scale, despite its very large size.

Is there any part of FLYING FOX you’re particularly pleased with?
MB My favourite element is the double-height spaces. You see a lot of this on other superyachts, where they face fore-and-aft, but on FLYING FOX they face outboard and that makes a huge difference. Ever since I started out in yacht design, I’ve always tried to push the idea of getting trees on board to supplement the natural materials. It gives a yacht even greater life and texture and the double height spaces enabled us to do that. We were able to opt for some fantastic trees of four and a half metres in height and that’s not been done before. It sounds relatively simple but until you actually see it, you’re not prepared for just how impactful it can be. Aside from that, it’s the implicit ‘feel’ of the on board spaces that I love. I’m lucky enough to go to some fantastic hotels and restaurants all around the world and sometimes, when you occupy a space, you feel that it’s a wonderful place to be but you can’t put your finger on why that is. So on FLYING FOX, we’ve tried to draw people in. We want them to be sitting on a sofa and, when they see something at the other end of the room, they’ll think ‘Oh, what’s that?’ and they’ll go and touch it. That’s the fun part of design but it doesn’t need to be lavish or over the top. It doesn’t need to scream about wealth, because it has wealth in other, more important ways – and for us, that’s all about the tactile, elemental simplicity of natural materials.
EO For me, the most pleasing thing is when you fly in and land on the sun deck aft, or approach by boat from around 30 degrees off the stern. You see all these organic shapes and I’m really pleased with those. The transom also has some very natural, flowing lines to it, which makes it much more interesting; more pleasing to the eye.
Of course, we use 3D computer modelling, so we always know what we’re going to get, but when you’re standing there looking at the finished, full-scale yacht, it always feels good – like validation.

In what way is FLYING FOX particularly suited to charter?
MB FLYING FOX actually lends herself to charter in a big way because she’s not excessively flamboyant or esoteric. She feels quite neutral but engagingly tactile. It may not necessarily be to your taste, but if you’re spending two weeks on board, there’s nothing here that would shout at you or cause offence. And again, that goes for the function as well as the aesthetic. Charter guests obviously want to use the yacht in a different way to the owner, but if the function is well executed, it’s immediately relaxing. Everything runs smoothly so, rather than thinking about the small things, the charter guest can simply enjoy his time on board and relax into the space.

Does that charter-friendliness extend to the layout as well as the fit-out?
EO The layout offers all the guests very large cabins with direct access to their own balconies, which is obviously great for charter. But when it comes down to it, the very best charters are all about experiences. You want the client to have access to as many experiences as possible, so the more activities you can offer in terms of gyms, spas, watersports, cinemas, diving, sightseeing and flying, the better. The more culinary experiences you can offer them, the better too. On FLYING FOX, you can enjoy formal or casual dining, either inside or outside – and you can even sit at the amazing exterior galley on the bridge aft deck, while the chef cooks your meal right in front of you. It has a barbecue, plus a tandoori oven and lots of other high-grade facilities and very few superyachts can offer anything like that.

What kind of destination is best suited to FLYING FOX’s talents?
EO She offers plenty of protected outside spaces with windbreaks, even on the external aft decks. But even though most people will probably think of her as a warm weather boat, I could just as easily see her in Antarctic waters as in the Med, the Caribbean,
the Maldives or the Pacific. She offers lots of different spaces, both inside and outside, both protected and more open – so for me, she’s very much a world traveller.
MB Exactly. She’s a very elegant yacht with a relaxed and understated interior and a laid back, homely feel. That’s not something that gets said too often about superyachts, but it’s very important. She’s a home from home – a place you can feel truly comfortable wherever in the world you happen to be.

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