In this feature designer Philippe Briand considers the new trend that puts glass firmly in the spotlight in sailing yacht design.
Since first introducing curved superstructure windows into his designs over 15 years ago, major advancements in glass manufacturing technology have greatly increased the versatility of this material.
Briand ensures he keeps firmly abreast of these developments: “I spend a lot of time with glass suppliers, helping them to understand the specific requirements of using glass on board any yacht, let alone a performance sailing superyacht like Vertigo or Mari Cha IV (now Samurai). This continual dialogue ensures that my concepts are always on the cutting edge of what is possible.”
The fashion for glass superstructures is gaining traction in yacht design circles. In coming years, the majority of new launches will have a glass coach roof at the very least forsees the designer. He credits the material’s continuing growth in popularity to its flexibility, as well as the aesthetic appeal of the futuristic shapes that glass can create.
The application of glass in a sailing environment in particular is interesting; the ability to bring the drama and beauty of the exterior inside adds a new dimension to the atmosphere within. Glass can offer near-360-degree panoramic views of the waterline, as well as the uniquely dramatic perspective of a superyacht mast from its base.
As larger and larger areas of the superstructure can be built entirely from glass, the team at Philippe Briand has been exploring the use of compound security glass with built-in multifunctional sensor technology, which allows early detection of any glass damage. Here, integrated sensors permanently measure the state of the panes and the information is passed over to the management and alarm systems.
Another technology that has been developed is particularly crucial when using glass in the interior of vessels. You can now, with the switch of a button, create a private space on board by turning clear glass opaque. For use in the guest and owner areas, and as clever dividers throughout, this technology stylishly and practically creates virtual space on board.
All these factors ensure that the design applications of glass in luxury yachts are constantly evolving, cementing its increasing use as a trend that we will be seeing grace the world’s favourite cruising grounds for years or decades to come.