5 Questions with... Aino Grapin, CEO of Winch Design

Written by Vivian Hendriksz

The superyacht industry may be small to some, but it is filled with a range of experts and professionals from around the world. In this series, we shine a light on some of the specialists working within the different segments of the industry to learn more about what they do for the sector. Aino Grapin first joined the team at Winch Design in 2016, bringing 20 years of experience leading and growing businesses within the creative industry with her. Working closely with the founder of the company, renowned yacht designer Andrew Winch, and the Board and Senior Management team, Aino shares with us what she has learned since taking up the reins at Winch Design and her vision for the future of the company. Aino GrapinPhoto: Winch Design 1) Can you tell us a bit more about your background? What was your experience with yachting and design prior to joining Winch Design as CEO?  

My background prior to Winch Design has been in strategy consulting, tech and art auction houses.  I had no personal experience of yachting before joining Winch, but some of my clients at Christie’s certainly had, which was more relevant! Amels Here Comes The Sun anchoredPhoto: Amels2) You previously worked in the art, luxury and technology sectors - what made you decide to switch industries and what aspects of your background do you think have helped you in your role at Winch Design the most? 

I am naturally curious and love learning about new industries.  When I was approached about this fantastic role in a creative industry with so many parallels with the fine art sector, I seized the opportunity.  I have been able to build on my knowledge of the client base and what service they expect, managing creatives and a shared passion for art and design.  As you can see from the book “Winch Design” published this year by Assouline, love of art is central to our design. Winch Design book launchPhoto: Winch Design3) Since your appointment at Winch Design, you have been working closely alongside Andrew Winch, co-founder of Winch Design. What is one of the biggest challenges you have overcome together? And what is one main takeaway concerning yacht design you have learned from him?  

Andrew Winch is a creative visionary, a dreamer with an obsession for detail, while he has brought me on because of my strategic and operational leadership skills.  So we complement each other and have learnt a great deal from each other. Gradually passing on the reins so that I can lead the team and for me to fully take on that responsibility has certainly been the greatest challenge to overcome together.  All of us at Winch Design continue to learn from him every day. A key principle of Andrew’s is that great design starts with truly listening to the client and having empathy. Only then can we start understanding a client’s needs and dreams.   Winch Design book launchPhoto: Winch Design4) Winch Design is at the forefront of yacht design - what role do you foresee the company playing when it comes to innovation in design?
Winch Design has built its success on pushing the boundaries and innovating in design.  We need to continue to design iconic yachts, inside and out, and not rest on our laurels. 2019 will be a big year for us and you will see some groundbreaking Winch yachts being delivered. The next design award is the one we want, not the one already sitting on the bookshelf! We have so much talent within our teams of designers, it is simply a case of harnessing and developing that talent. We also work collaboratively with shipyards, interior contractors and furniture suppliers to push ourselves to do better than last time. It may be that this requires technical innovation, for instance, to use huge glass panels, or it may be that it requires ancestral craftsmanship to create a perfectly authentic finish. Our three fields of Yachts, Aviation and Architecture also benefit from exciting crossovers, which keeps us at the forefront.  Grande concept design by Winch5) How do you foresee the future of the superyacht industry evolving over the next five years? Where do you see Winch Design in this vision?  

Our industry continues to grow in line with ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) both in wealth and numbers.  But not all segments and geographies will grow proportionally.  We are known for designing 80m + yachts but also work with the 55-80 metre yacht segment, exterior and interior, as well as refits, sailing yachts and production yachts. At Winch Design, we will be broadening our portfolio because our designers enjoy taking on challenges in different fields and so do our clients.  

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