The designer Philippe Briand talks to Daily Nautica: “I started to design my first boat at 16”

Our interview with French designer Philippe Briand who shares with us the principles behind the design of bespoke super yachts and sustainability.

10 February 2023 | by Redazione
Phillippe Briand

Philippe Briand is a French designer who works and lives in London. He has a studio in Chelsea, London, and one in La Rochelle, France.

He now manages a team of specialised designers working in Sailing, Fast Sailing, Super, Production and Motor Yachts.

A yacht designed by Briand can easily be recognised by its long and streamlined profile and proportions. Among his personal interests are sailing, art, and industrial design.

His passion for design began as a child. Philippe Briand began drawing sail boats at the age of 11, and made his first design at 16.  His designs have won nine world titles including the Admiral’s Cup, the Whitbread Race and the 4 Ton Cup.


This is Liguria Nautica’s interview with Phillipe Brand.

How did your passion begin and how did it transform into a profession?

I started to design my first boat at 16 and spent time at the yard to see how they were using the plans. This helped me a lot to be better on the second design I did a bit later.

I lived in a yard in Sweden when Sweden was building the America’s Cup contender Sveridge .  I still spent time in the yard.  I have always steered and used the sailing yachts I designed and each time, you learn and see ways of optimizing.

What advice would you give to a young person wanting to follow your career path?

Go work in a yard, be a deckhand on a ship, take sailing lessons, go on the water, so at least you will understand what yachts all are about.  Do not start pretending to be a yacht designer when all you know is Photoshop and come up with what the press calls “cool designs “.

Agreed they can be cool, but they should be called “illustrations “.  As they are not realistic nor buildable.  A designer needs to be able to understand how a yacht is going to be built and make it buildable. It takes many years before one masters the global picture.

What makes a Briand design different in sailing and motorboats?

I leave this to the users to decide.

What is the difference, if there is one, between designing for a shipyard and designing for your own brand?

We create bespoke and series yachts. When you create a yacht for production, it becomes more industrial design, and one creates standard elements that need to work.

That is not easy and takes many more design hours per sq foot and in the process, there are many more stakeholders one has production, marketing, product managers: and all together we need to come to the most market fitting yacht.

In the bespoke market one has the Owners, and that is where it stops.  And Owners know what they want.

Is it more interesting to indulge in the desire of a client, making it your own, or debate with them and compare it with other, different visions?

I do not consider the people asking me to design their yacht as clients, they are sponsors to use a modern word for Maecenas.

It is of course amazing when the client agrees with the solution presented and in general, when you have the trust of the client to design the yacht according to his specs but giving the designer loose reins, one creates the most attractive vessels.

What does “innovation” mean in a sail boat today? And in a yacht?

Innovation is happening in different fields; I think the main innovation will is the change in the use of the yachts. The yachts become more living on board; the yachts being sailing, or motor, are platforms for sports and well-being and access to the water. The spaces are dedicated to toys and wellness centres and life outside protected from the sun.

All yachts, be it sailing, or motor are designed around those principles. All spaces are for use, not show.

There is a lot of talk about sustainability in every industry, but what are the concrete choices that boat designers and builders can make to help focus both owners and the market in this direction?

We are clearly in a transitional phase, as we are in our daily lives Today we launch hybrid yachts. And as you know we focus on reduction of energy by the design of the yacht.  That is essential.  If you design a yacht with lots of resistance you will consume.  That is why planes are not square and our yachts are streamlined, always.

The main issues are of course around zeroing other things, not only emissions.  Water treatment, waste treatment, use of low impact materials. We would love to design a yacht with recycled aluminium.

What do you believe will be the factor or technology that will change the boating industry the most, in the future?

The industry is changing, the way the world around us is changing.  We will and are taking the preservation of our planet very seriously.  If we don’t our industry will simply disappear together with the beaty of the oceans and the coastlines around.


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