INTERVIEW Martin Francis

Making waves with the naval architect

You could call Martin Francis a ‘universal designer’. Although most famous as a naval architect and for his jaw-dropping superyachts, he pushes creative boundaries in ways that blur the distinction between specialisms—including architecture, furniture design, engineering, photography, and fine art.

Martin Francis’s CV is design-focused, multi-disciplinary, and stellar. He has, for example, created bespoke furniture; designed inflatable structures for the Tour de France; worked with iconic artist Frank Stella on sculptures and computer-assisted art; built elegant villas in the South of France; installed one hundred fishing poles in a field outside London; and worked on the Louvre’s beautiful glass pyramids. “It’s because I work in other disciplines that there’s a constant cross-fertilization of ideas”, he says.

He has brought this creative approach to his partnership with Swarovski, designing the stunning Surface Collection that was unveiled at the recent 2014 Superyacht Design Symposium. “Allowing the simple beauty of Swarovski crystals to shine out above the design was challenging, but it helped me create something exceptional.” And exceptional it is, consisting of a range of super-luxe aesthetic treatments that add crystal refinement to interior surfaces such as wood, suede, leather and MDF: “By placing individual Swarovski crystals in simple arrangements on a series of surfaces that combine, for instance, crystal with leather and lacquer, the eye no longer focuses on any particular material, but rather on an entire virtual surface,” says Francis. “As you move around the panel, the highlights pick up, revealing myriad facets.”

Martin Francis Swarovski Surface Collection

You can’t write about Francis’s achievements in the world of yacht design without mentioning the famously radical and uniquely streamlined Superyacht ‘A’, designed in collaboration with über-designer Philippe Starck. When asked about working with Starck, Francis says, simply: “We were on the same wavelength. Good design is a product of good collaboration”. Happily, this philosophy also informs his relationship with Swarovski.

Something special is happening in yacht design. The big beasts of the ocean are entering a new phase, where interiors of discreet glamour and shimmering contemporaneity match the sleekness of their exterior silhouettes.

To receive more information about the Surface Collection, click here.

Swarovski Crystals Magazine #01 - Everyday Extraordinary

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