As design standards continue to rise, the process of creating a new superyacht concept can be tough work. With plenty of competition, designers strive to include a 'wow-factor' in the hope that it will resonate with someone enough to be made into a reality. Jonas Aabel’s talents have been nurtured ever since his entrance into the industry as a finalist in the Young Designer of the Year Award. As part of the final ceremony, Aabel was granted access to the Lürssen shipyard, realised his calling lay with marine design, and has never looked back.
Now as an industrial designer with more than 12 years of experience, Aabel previously worked as an associate of the renowned cruise ship design firm, YSA design, based in Oslo, Norway with his contributions destined for the likes of Disney Cruise Line, Seadream Yacht Club and MSC Cruises. Last year, Aabel set up his own studio in Oslo, Aabel Works, to help steer his focus and work to include not only marine projects but also industrial design products and interior architecture. Now after one year in operation, one of the more impressive concepts to come from Aabel Works is the 50-metre superyacht Katana. Aabel has penned four decks to accommodate up to 12 guests across four suites - two of which have additional Pullman beds. For the owner, the master suite is located on the main deck, as well as the main saloon, dining area and galley. Connected by an onboard elevator, Katana comes complete with a spacious sundeck with multiple lounge areas, teppanyaki grill, bar, TV screen and a Jacuzzi. Guests can also make use of the tenders and jetskis stored on the foredeck, which the crew of eight can assist with lowering into the water via the foredeck crane.Eager to develop the concept, Aabel has incorporated features such as the generous ceiling heights of 2.4-metres and a gross tonnage of around 700 - a weight dependant on the client’s preference in construction materials. With a proposed diesel-electric propulsion system, Katana is predicted to reach top speeds of 20 knots and cruise between 12-15 knots to achieve a range of approximately 5000nm. Having developed the design through 3D modelling and visualisation, Aabel has created a yacht with Japanese-inspired lines with the intention for her to be shown off in marinas around the world. With the specifications perfected and onboard features in place, Aabel shares a more in-depth insight exclusively with SuperYacht Times about how his concept came to be, and the type of considerations taken by a young designer today. How would you describe your design style and focus, and how has this developed over the years?
Being a finalist alongside my team in the Young Designer of the Year Award in 2009 had a profound impact on me and from that moment on, I knew that I wanted to design boats. Also being able to work for Frank Laupman at Omega Architects helped me to gain valuable experience and has certainly helped to develop my style.
I define the style and direction of my work based on the client’s wishes. I always listen to the client! Regardless of whether they want a classic, modern, futuristic or military-style vessel, it is all about creating the right proportions and selecting the right surface treatments and details. I tend to maintain a specific focus on the proportions of the vessel because if you don't get that right, everything else will look wrong. How did the Katana concept come about?
I have always had a passion for yacht design, and for smaller vessels. For many years, I had been working on designs as part of a team. So I wanted to have the opportunity to design a boat - all by myself - from start to finish - and for it to be one that I would have for myself if I could ever afford it!
The basic idea was to create a 50-metre yacht with a striking appearance that has great hydrodynamics and has a practical user-friendly layout. I wanted to develop something that was a combination of a rugged explorer and a stylish, sleek yacht that would turn heads in the harbour.What made you incorporate a Japanese influence into the concept?
I have always been fascinated by Japanese culture and history. Particularly their attention to details, the beauty and perfection of their craftsmanship, the advanced technology represented by robotics, computer games and manga comics.
The inspiration for the exterior design profile comes from the Japanese Katana sword, which you can see the profile of through the main character line in the hull. The Katana blade is famous for its exceptional strength, beauty, sharpness and effectiveness and these are the elements that I wanted to incorporate into my design. What do you think are the standout features of Katana? What makes her unique?
The most prominent feature would be the hull and the shape of the bow. With a reverse flair at the top, the X-bow is, in my opinion, a very effective hydrodynamic solution. This gives the yacht longer hull lines at the water level, which improves fuel economy and is also perfect for cutting through rough seas without receiving large amounts of green sea on the foredeck. I would describe the design as having a strong focus on highly taut lines, optimal proportions and strong graphical elements.
Another prominent feature found aft on the lower deck, is the spacious gym, watersports and diving area with direct access - via some sliding doors - to the swim platform which also features a transformer. This space is perfect for scuba diving and watersport activities!How would you describe the perfect owner for the Katana concept?
I believe the ideal owner would be someone who wants a boat that has a practical layout, and can handle rough seas thanks to its explorer yacht capabilities. In addition, someone who wants a sleek, modern and dynamic design that would certainly stand out in the marina.
To make an enquiry about Katana, or to find out more about Jonas Aabel and the Aabel Works design studio, contact the company directly via the information found below.
T: +47 98851020