We hear from one of the industry’s youngest (and coolest) owners about running a company from his yacht, the lessons our industry could learn from the real estate business and discover the story behind the seven-month transformation of his 44.8-metre 2014-built Logica into the spectacular party-business crossover yacht Forever. Photo: Sandro Bertozzi‘Work hard, play hard’ is one of those mottos that tends to not to be put into practice. With our everyday use of technology, social media and remote working opportunities, sometimes it seems there are no days off. For some, however, this is an ideal working scenario, especially when the office is a 150-square-metre sundeck in the Mediterranean.
Meet Jakob Mähren, founder and CEO of the Mähren Group and having the accolade of being one of the top real estate entrepreneurs in Berlin, 37-year old Mähren has already progressed his way up the ranks of superyacht ownership from a modest 15-metre Sunseeker to a 32-metre Sanlorenzo called Wanted and finally settling on his 44.8-metre Logica build known as Forever. Photo: Mähren AGWhile some see superyacht ownership as an opportunity to escape from the pressures of 21st-century business, for Mähren, everything about his boat is crafted with the purpose of helping him achieve the best he can in the commercial world. As he explains, this also enables him to be in the admirable position of being able to spend an entire season on board his floating office. “Summer is the off-season for real estate and lettings, so this works out extremely well for me. Everybody is on holiday in July and August so I can meet up with my business partners when I cruise around the South of France and Ibiza because they’re all there! You can combine having great leisure time with business meetings on board.”
Naturally, for number-savvy Mähren, there is also the cost element of ownership to take into account. “I know how much my boat costs and I would be angry with myself if I’d gone to all of this effort and only spent 1-2 weeks on board a year when I could just charter a boat. In summer, it is my main home and I only go to Berlin when I am needed.” Photo: Sandro BertozziThe story behind Mähren’s purchase of Forever has its foundations in a deep love for boats which began in childhood. “When I was a little kid, I dreamed of having a yacht. When we were painting pictures, other children would paint a forest, a moon or a sun, but I just painted yachts. Even my parents said I was a little psychopathic in how much I loved them.”
But it is one thing to have a passion for boats and quite another to make the shift into actual superyacht ownership. When asked what it was, exactly, that enabled him to move from yachting enthusiast into the ranks of the owners’ club, Mähren offers me a suitably wry response: “Well, the money helped. Without money, yachting is the wrong hobby for you.” Photo: Sandro BertozziMore specifically: “I had been in business for 15 years when I decided to buy my first boat, the 15-metre Sunseeker. I had a big exit and thought, ‘come on, now is the time.’” Bought with the intention of driving it himself (and one licence acquired for the purpose), Mähren cruised around Majorca for a season and soon began to think bigger, opting next for a 32-metre Sanlorenzo which he called Wanted.
“When I stepped on board, it was one of the coolest moments of my life. I used the boat right from the beginning to the end of the summer season, travelling around the whole Med.” But soon enough, Mähren’s ambitious side reared its head again. “After the second season, I thought to myself, if I can reach my goals in business and achieve that exit, I am going to sell my Sanlorenzo and buy myself a bigger boat.”Photo: Mähren AGWith this motivator bolstering him, Mähren soon managed to achieve his goal, falling in love with the 44.8-metre Forever at the Cannes and Monaco boat shows in autumn 2017 and sealing the deal in record time. “I went on the boat, looked around, made an offer and signed the contract in a very short period. I am an individual that likes to decide pretty fast.” Superyacht purchased, there was no resting on his laurels for this young owner, who had a transformative vision for his vessel.
“When I bought Forever, I was looking for a boat where I could do a refit inside and really put all of my style into it. I liked the hull and the outside as it was a little bit unique and I liked the structure and layout of the boat: the swimming pool at the front, the beach club and the really wide saloon. But when I stepped inside for the first time, I thought, ‘Oh God, it’s all wood, very dark.’ Her condition was pretty good but she was owned by a guy who was twice my age so it was absolutely not my style.”Photo: FotoSargentini / Logica YachtsPhoto: FotoSargentini / Logica YachtsMotor yacht Logica before the refit
Notably, with a whole industry of seasoned superyacht designers he could have opted for, Mähren made the unexpected decision to move outside of yachting and commission his friend Michael Niederer, head of design at the Vienna-based studio St Corona Interiors to tackle the project. Having previously worked for Mähren on the interiors of his chalet - located near Kitzbühel in the Austrian Alps - Niederer and Mähren flew to Viareggio and the transformation of Forever began in earnest. Mähren and Niederer’s efforts on Forever started in October 2017 and were fully completed by June 2018, ready for the German owner to enjoy his first summer on board his best purchase yet.
Mähren’s vision for his boat was clear from the off and a million miles away from its existing dark and wood-heavy styling. “My dream was always to have a boat which combined bright colours with the mainly white, typical Miami look: cool and minimalistic and with a young and fresh design. Because of my knowledge of real estate development, it was not difficult for me to imagine how the boat could look after a refit.” Photo: FotoSargentini / Logica YachtsMotor yacht Logica before the refit
With this dream banked, the transfiguration of the interiors could begin. Contemporary concrete resin flooring and freestanding furniture were used to create a penthouse feel, replacing the existing heavy wooden decking and built-in furniture. The entire yacht was outfitted with white-grey broken natural stone, airy linen, thick wool silk rugs and large mirrored surfaces (a total of 300 metres of linen by Loro Piana were used to cover the walls). As a true showcase feature, the Corona Interiors team also incorporated a striking 12-metre high marble staircase into the existing structure.Photo: Mähren AGForever after the refit
Even taking into account the hard work behind the refit, it’s certainly not all work and no play for Mähren, whose favourite elements of the refit were implemented with serious enjoyment in mind. Just look at the bar: “We put in a back-lit onyx bar on the upper deck which shines with colour-changing LED lights. It’s a fantastic party place and perfect to meet your friends for an aperitif before dinner.” There is also the matter of the two dance floors with integrated lasers and a 35,000 watt music system which Mähren had installed.
With Mähren showcasing a boat that can be transformed from a functional business boat into the perfect party location with the push of a button, why aren't more young owners following suit? As Mähren explains, the potential clientele is there. “The whole market is way more open than it ever has been. It is much easier for people who are working hard and have a good idea to become pretty rich so they can afford a boat. For example, successful startup investors who do an exit. If you are young and you want to have fun, a boat is a fantastic opportunity to do that.” Photo: Sandro BertozziForever after her refit
Making charter more attractive to successful entrepreneurs could be a good starting point. “Chartering in Thailand, Croatia, Montenegro and the Balearics was my first step into the industry. Charter is more focused on families but we could show people that chartering a yacht when you are in a group is not super expensive. It is basically the same as renting a luxury villa but you are way more flexible. You can see so many beaches, especially in the summer season when all the beaches are full and you have your own chef on board.” Alternatively, looking again to the real estate industry could also provide some inspiration. “Real estate has opened up to younger people through shared ownership or rental schemes. There are so many different ways to sell or charter a boat, which could, in my eyes, be used a little bit better.”
All in all, despite having to contend with his father being mistaken for the owner of the boat on occasion (“When I invite my parents on the boat, sometimes people think I am a deckhand and he is the owner, but I actually find it pretty funny”), Mähren serves as a perfect example of an owner who is really making the most of superyacht ownership in all of its different facets. So, is it Forever by name, forever by nature, or does Mähren have other plans?
“I am super happy to have Forever. She is exactly what I want and is custom made for me from the inside. I am usually a person that is always running after bigger things but I have calmed down a little bit so I can actually just enjoy the boat. Right now, it is big enough and I can see all the places I want to. That said, you never know what the future will bring...”Photo: Sandro BertozziForever after her refit
To discover more about the refit, SYT sat down with interior designer Michael Niederer from St. Corona Interiors who told us all about Forever's extraordinary transformation.
You were given a carte blanche by Jakob for the interior design project. How did this affect your approach to the work?
The only thing Jakob told me was that he would like to have a light, modern yacht, that transmitted the atmosphere of a Miami penthouse. This provided me with the unusual freedom to create the entire design concept without interruptions until I believed it was perfect. It was like creating a painting and presenting it at the end was a wonderful experience!Photo: FotoSargentini / Logica YachtsPhoto: Mähren AGMotor yacht Forever before and after the refit
What was your overall vision for the interior work?
My idea was to create a place where the exterior, interior and graphic design speak the same language. Most of the exterior design was already finished so Forever received an interior that is in line with the exterior: it is all one piece. Photo: Sandro BertozziInstalling the 12-metre stone staircase was a particular challenge during the refit.
What were the most challenging elements of the work you had to do in the seven-month period?
There were a series of challenges to contend with. It was very difficult to build a 35,000-watt sound system into an existing steel and aluminium structure. We also built in a 12-metre-high stone staircase and a stonewall which had a hidden door and wine fridge. Another difficulty was the need to make the surface of the stone look like a rough, natural stonewall that was smooth at the same time.
The onyx bar was also very complex to design and build. We had to make a construction that kept the floor movement away from the sensitive onyx. Every detail had to be considered, including a feature that would allow the water to run out of the backlit stone. Photo: FotoSargentini / Logica YachtsPhoto: Sandro BertozziDining on board Forever, before (top) and after the refit.
How was the process of sourcing materials for the refit works?
Luckily, Captain Thomas Donato is from Viareggio which is where the yacht had originally been built. He knows everybody. Without him, it would have been impossible to rebuild the boat in the time we had for construction.
Were you pleased with the outcome? What was your favourite element of the refit work?
I am absolutely happy with the outcome. I love the balance between the rough stonewall and the walls which are covered with the finest Loro Piana linen. I am also very pleased with the lighting concept we created within Forever. Even though we used a lot of cold colours and rough materials, the dual white system allowed us to switch between a warm candlelight atmosphere during the evening and a fresh and vibrant daylight atmosphere.
This article first appeared in the SuperYacht Times newspaper. Subscribe now to receive your copy straight to your door and never miss another issue.