Floating New Ideas

 09 Jun 2014

Designing boats, and the interiors of boats, is necessarily a precise business. There’s limited space, the environment is one that is constantly on the move and they can even pitch about violently in rough weather. There’s no room for error, and health and safety concerns are ever present. Meanwhile storage is at an absolute premium – everything has a place and everything in its place, as they say. Designing a sea-going dwelling is, in short, a discipline best left to the experts.

Being a ship and boat interior design specialist takes a particular blend of residential, commercial and product experience, and an understanding of the sea.
Jeremy Spear of Spear Green Design (SGD) is one such specialist. Initially trained as an industrial designer, Spear has worked for many renowned interior companies, completing work for the British Royal family (including a bathroom for Prince Charles and Princess Diana at Kensington Palace) as well as other bespoke projects in the UK and Europe. He then worked on very fast trains and undertook a number of ship and boat refits, returned home to Australia and studied naval architecture to “consolidate and complement existing experience, and gain credibility in the industry.”

Spear knows industrial design and interior design – and he knows boats. As a marine designer, Spear and SGD have worked on everything from luxury yachts and passenger ferries (including the three Spirit of Tasmania ships), to 500+ passenger tourism and Coastguard vessels that ply the waters off Southern Asia. It’s challenging work because, as Spear explains, the job entails a mix of residential, commercial and product design. You have to “blend materials and finishes in a limited environment,” he says. “It’s like working with one hand behind your back: all the materials and finishes must be specifically marine-code compliant.”

The concerns of power supply, lighting, weight, height and code compliance all play their part, as does the fact that most vessels are built from alloy or steel. “We have to cover not just the design of a space or the styling of an exterior,” says Spear, “but we need to ensure aspects such as acoustic, thermal, lighting and audio visual are all covered and are all part of a cohesive solution.”

As well, boats and ships often work in remote areas so “everything needs to work first time, and all the time,” he says, adding that some vessels “work 24 hours a day and just don’t shut down.”

Everything specified has to be fit for the purpose and is specified based on many criteria – including reliability and reputation, service and spares, warranty and worldwide assistance and backup. Everything in a maritime environment has to last an exceptionally long time in “often inhospitable conditions – always moving, experiencing high and dynamic wear, and in a salty environment,” says Spear.

Needless to say, of all the myriad requirements, something that is at the very top of the list is a constant and reliable source of drinking water for everyone aboard.

“We know that any Zip system we specify will deliver water on demand”

Spear accordingly specifies Zip products and has done so for many different vessels. Zip products specified include Zip HydroTap boiling and chilled filtered water systems, Zip wall-recessed water chillers, Zip touch- free hand-washing taps, and Zip hand dryers. “We know that any Zip system we specify will deliver water on demand — always filtered —  sometimes boiling and sometimes chilled but always filtered,” Spears says. Installing Zip products means the “practical aspects are taken care of and the owners and operators can have peace of mind.” It also means bottled water doesn’t have to be stored on board and water delivered from storage tanks is always filtered.

Zip’s range of products, including this wall fountain unit, are well at home at sea. The stainless steel Zip Wall Fountain recessed into the rear wall of the saloon is fitted with a drinking bubbler and swivel action carafe filler, and provides up to 140 glasses of filtered chilled drinking water per hour.

In practical space-saving terms too, Zip products offer a significant benefit, says Spear. “From a design point of view we find the units to be compact, quiet, easily accessed for service and filter changes,” he says. “The major elements are usually installed under bench – out of sight, freeing up more valuable ‘real estate’ on a vessel, where space is always tight.

“For the ‘on display’, front-of-house aspect they are elegant, clean, uncluttered and simple for people of all nationalities and cultures to use,” adds Spear. “They are simple for crew to maintain and clean, so they do. They work for us ergonomically and add an element of modern style.”
"Article taken from Boiling Point issue no. 21, published by the Indesign Media Asia Pacific. Words by Guy Allenby, Photography by Rodriquez Cantieri Navali, Designer by Spear Green Design"