WHY: a step forward is about to be taken (Part 2)


10/2009 –

Part (1) of this article

Did this new territory require you to come up with a new way to design a boat ?

P.-A.D. It is indeed a strange project. Its atypical side draws me in, like when you enter a new world. Hermès needs projects like this. WHY addresses the very real problem of consumption, which is today exacerbated by the global context. We provide an answer in a field where clients are responsible for setting an example, embracing a new ethic. What this market needs is a boat designed with the environment in mind. This new way of moving on water must give way to a new way of managing energy, its sources and uses, how to recycle it, etc. The same goes for the choice of materials; we have to limit the effect on the environment.

G.P. In terms of design, you don’t approach a boat like any other object. It’s a world that’s already defined by the very shape of the hull. We didn’t design a boat, we gave shape to an idea. The sea is one of the last spaces where people can indulge in absolute freedom. Deciding to live on the sea means rethinking everything that’s been done before. You need to start from scratch! For example, we provide a real jogging track inspired by coastal paths running around the ship. Above all, we had to transpose and translate functions into forms, and vice versa, by merging the viewpoints of Hermès and Wally.

L.B.A. A boat moves. And not everyone has the constitution of a sailor. So it has to be as stable as possible. This is the fundamental conceptual base for the whole WHY project. We tested it for six months in the specialised tank testing facility, to see how it performed in big seas. The outcome is that, in full swell, the bow moves a tiny bit and the stern stays completely still. Anchored, the boat creates a totally flat surface behind it, like an Olympic-size pool where you can swim in total peace. On the bow, there’s a seawater pool 25 metres long that follows the curve of the prow.

P.-A.D. Its slowness dictates a new aesthetic, while its function makes it beautiful, bizarrely beautiful. Naturally, the idea for the structure came later.

Did you use a similar approach for the interior design ?
P.-A.D. The sheer size of the hull called for serious interiorarchitecture work. It’s a house on water! Naturally, we asked the RDAI agency, a company Hermès has been working with for over thirty years, to come up with an architectural concept that coalesced with the general concept of the boat. What they came up with was powerful, beyond our wildest dreams. Luca and I were very enthusiastic about the project.

In terms of the interior layout, what were the limitations ?
L.B.A. Decorating the interior of a yacht is a meeting point between the rawness of the boat and the fragility of the human body. When I started designing boats, my main concern was to create sensual and comforting spaces. Life on board has unavoidable aesthetic limitations resulting more from the materials than the forms. You have to keep in mind that, on a boat, you’re always barefoot and in a swimsuit. The contact between the materials and the skin is extremely important. No sharp corners, no abrasive materials that can hurt people. Everything has to be nice, harmless, skin-friendly.

What functions do you need for life on board ?
L.B.A. Ventilation and cooling for all the systems. Then there’s fresh water, made from desalted seawater. And finally, food storage. I even thought about planting a vegetable garden! It’s actually not an extravagant idea. Since Antiquity, ships have always had a real giardinetto in the driest spots on board. They would grow basil, herbs, vegetables, etc.

What kinds of innovative features does the first WHY boat have ?
L.B.A. SkySails®* involves new and advanced technology. There’s also the silica photovoltaic panels, a first on this scale, as even cruise ships don’t have a surface like this. They’re totally adjustable, retractable and filter light and wind. They’re latest generation panels, storing enough energy to provide for almost half the needs of a 20-person crew and twelve guests living in a 3,000-square-metre space.

G.P. Other innovations include the coastal path, a 30-metre beach at the back and a swim lane that hugs the bow of the boat.

P.-A.D. The boat is contained in the hull. There is no superstructure. Only the cockpit emerges from the silhouette of the ship, like a lighthouse on an island. Light became a major concern. Probably because of my Mediterranean roots, I dreamed up an outdoor patio to go in the middle of the boat complete with an olive tree. Done. The light shafts also make for warm lighting for the spaces inside…

With its unusual dimensions and design, is the first WHY boat a mere utopia ?
P.-A.D. For six generations, Hermès has grown thanks to extraordinary designs, which our craftsmen need in
order to push their limits. This monumental project fulfils our dreams. It’s not about a utopia, but rather about making a dream come true, the dream of living on water in harmony with the elements and in absolute comfort.

L.B.A. My imagination has no bounds. Designing a boat that resembles an island is not a utopia. We’re proving that right now, aren’t we ?

Could you sum up in a few words what this boat represents for you ?
P.-A.D. A dream. Our ability to innovate. An architectural structure on water, in harmony with nature, made of ustainable materials and light, with an artisan spirit. A new way of living on the sea.

L.B.A. I know one of Dante’s sonnets about the sea by heart and my father lived his entire life by a few verses from Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano that he kept in a frame on his boat… An island, a peak, a cape, a peninsula.

*SkySail is a telescopic wind-turbine system and a retractable mast with a computer-operated sail measuring over 200 square metres that will produce at least 30 % of the energy used to propel the boat. Tech Specs of WHY

See the Photo Gallery of WHY

– AlP –

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