For over half a century, Tillberg Design of Sweden has been at the forefront when it comes to luxury yacht design. The main focus has always been on designing beautiful and elegant super yachts that are environmentally friendly and sustainable.
In this Tell It In Ten interview for the Virtual BOAT Show, Yacht Director and Partner of TDoS, Daniel Nerhagen, shares his story, insights about what it is like to work as a yacht designer and the best advice that he has ever been given in 10 quick questions.
Did you always want to be a yacht designer?
I never realized it. It was more like I was gravitating towards it. I had been working with high-end interiors for ships for a number of years, and it was a natural development into the yacht segment.
How did you get your first big break?
It was when I became project manager for my first really big project, Pride of America.
What was the first project you worked on?
Some of the celebrity cruise ships in the mid-90s, I believe. I really can’t remember that but I think it was a couple of those ships.
What rookie mistakes did you make when you were younger?
I think I did all of them basically. That’s part of being a rookie that you make all of these mistakes and learn from them. I had the best senior designers around me and they tried to tell me what to avoid and what not to do and so on, but all rookies need to make mistakes and learn by themselves. Moving or even removing structural pillars is never popular when you meet the shipyard. So you learn the hard way.
What’s the best design advice you’ve ever received?
“It’s all in the details.” And what does that mean? It’s basically from the designer about how much attention they pay to the details, and then it’s also how the outfitter actually does it in the end. You can have the nicest, most expensive materials, but if the detailing is not right from a design point of view and the outfitter is not fulfilling it, it will never fly. I’ve seen amazing projects with really simple material, super nice detailing, and the outfitter has executed it perfectly, and it’s so much nicer.
What is the most difficult thing about being a yacht designer?
I think the hardest part is actually understanding the client. They have high expectations, they have a vision, they have a dream. And listening to them and understanding and being able to create their vision and dreams, that’s the hardest part.
Have you ever had a truly crazy yacht design request?
Oh, yes! It’s part of the game I must say. Sometimes we’re not realizing it’s a crazy design request because for us it’s business as usual, and I would say also that a lot of the time actually the craziest requests come internally from the design team. Sometimes it’s the owner or even the shipyard saying: “No, it’s not possible.”
What do you do when you need inspiration?
I tend to go to my nice-to-have folder on my computer where I collect a lot of pictures. I take these pictures whenever I see something interesting, or I collect them on my computer when browsing for other things. And when I get stuck I tend to go to that folder for inspiration, and it’s a little bit like YouTube, you start looking at something, and then all of a sudden you are completely surfed away and have ended up with a completely different topic. And it’s the same with that folder. It gets me going so to speak.
Which boat would you love to own if money were no object?
That’s a good one. I would really like to own one of the old America’s Cup J-boats, like the Svea S1. The lines are so beautiful, and it’s still so powerful with the huge sails. Yep, that would be my dream boat for sure!
Complete the sentence: when I’m not designing yachts, I am …
Most probably out on the water, sailing, windsurfing, or in a RIB coaching youth sailors.
If you would like to learn a bit more about Tillberg Design of Swedens Yacht design, see some of our yacht projects here