We often fall in love with yachts, and admire the designers and builders of these beautiful works of art. We visit the world’s most beautiful locations to catch a glimpse of the real stars of this industry, the superyachts. Over the years we’ve built up an eye for detail, being able to separate just another yacht from an authentic masterpiece. From the build of the hull, the sleek lines of naval architects, to the custom built interiors, it is in the details where the true yacht lover nurtures his sincere admiration.
The handle and care of these details lies in the working man’s hands every single day. These are the artists we seldom hear about, the true craftsman of our industry. It is their work which allows us to feel a slight tingle when we step aboard a superyacht, be it the first or the umpteenth time. The specialised hands of the professional craftsmen are decisive for the end result, and experience built up over many years is present in the details for us to discover. From the careful selection of the materials to creating the perfect finish: Craftsmanship is the key to products of the highest quality.
I recently had the chance to experience some of this craftsmanship myself, as I was invited to a tour of Struik & Hamerslag’s Yacht Interiors and Refits workspace. Working with some of the biggest shipyards in the industry, Struik & Hamerslag have left their stamp on over 100 yachts since 1964.
Struik & Hamerslag’s Koen van der Well took me around the Struik & Hamerslag facility. Here I could see how everything Struik & Hamerslag creates is uniquely and exclusively designed, making every piece of furniture a 1 of 1. Creating for example a single desk can take up to over a month's time of cabinet-making. Raw materials are purchased specifically for every piece they’re building, thus not working with a standard stock.
Working with wood, shaping it in the exact manner as is desired, can truly be described as a ‘craft’. Wood is carefully selected by tree trunk, after which the grain is tuned to its counterparts. By correctly processing the raw material, the distinctive features become visible. Combining the actual wood veneer with its plywood carrier is a result of the combination between templates, glues, plywood, veneer and vacuum. Afterwards the wood is mechanically adapted, while all the custom templates are being saved in the Struik & Hamerslag storage room.
All individual parts are being collected and moved one floor up where a group of highly skilled cabinetmakers spend weeks composing and finishing the unique furniture elements. It is almost like an obsession, the absolute need to be picture perfect. At Struik & Hamerslag professionals are given the time they need to fulfil that urge. It is quality over everything.
When a piece of furniture eventually becomes one, the work isn’t quite done yet. Superior veneering skills and special finishing is a standard part of anything built at Struik & Hamerslag. And keep in mind any piece of furniture is just a small part of the total experience of the interior. It can be both omnipresent within a room, making it impossible to overlook, and still remain just a subtle part of the bigger picture. An interior is always the sum of its parts. Still, the overall pleasure of the total experience lies in the details.
Most people working at Struik & Hamerslag’s workplace have been with the company since their early 20s. In-house training and programmes are provided to offer their craftsmen the best possible knowhow. This knowledge is translated onto the material through their talented hands. New talent is brought in through surrounding schools. These young ambitious craftsmen are the artists of the future, benefitting from the in-house talent and experience of the more seasoned Struik & Hamerslag employees.
Aside from safety regulations and deadlines, the main focus of Struik & Hamerslag’s employees seems to be to excel in their passion. There they find a home for their passion of building exquisite furniture. Due to the exorbitant demands of the owners, Struik & Hamerslag’s professionals have the opportunity to excel at what they love doing most. At the same time, the craftsmanship of the working man allows the owners to have unlimited fantasies. This results in mutual satisfaction.
The designers, interior stylists and the owner’s wishes always seem to create a standard of qualities far above ones imagination. The execution lies in the hands of these exceptional craftsmen who produce an end product which I am sure also exceeds the expectations of the owners. I personally never imagined the amazing dedication and talent behind building interiors. Yes, I have seen a few yachts in my lifetime and marvelled at the details, but I never suspected the amount of work that went into it. And while it may start with the vision of the owner, it also stems from the keen eye of the working man and the company providing a home where there’s enough time to excel.
As much as we should salute the superyacht owners – it is their money spent – we should also pay our proper respects to the artists who give us something so pretty and overwhelming to look at, both on the inside and on the outside.
SuperYacht Times - The State of Yachting 2020
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