Despite having struggled with naval architecture, Andrew Winch creates yacht concepts that spring to life line by line from the drawing table.
By Elizabeth Ginns Britten — February 2005
I grew up wanting to study boats, but didn’t think I could because I was never any good at math,” designer Andrew Winch says. “I’m dyslexic, and not numeric.”
It’s a strange thing to hear, since this self-described “mathematically challenged” man has gone on to become a widely respected design mastermind known for creating unique yacht interiors. But don’t mistake him for an interior designer. “That’s a misconception,” he says, conceding that even his family and friends sometimes think the same. His creations incorporate many engineering and architectural styling elements, both internally and externally. “Really, I design yachts—the whole concept of them inside and out,” he explains.
The man who would eventually become known as one of the most creative and innovative designers and stylists in the industry fell in love with boats and the water as a young boy growing up on the southern coast of England. He began racing sailboats at age ten, built a 23-foot keelboat as a teenager with his father, spent time cruising the English coast and France, and spent a year after college working as a crewmember aboard a 53-foot sailboat. Even today, his love of the water continues to drive him. “I love seeing water. I adore it. It’s very rhythmic. My office is situated right on the Thames [River]. I, just, absolutely adore it. There’s some kind of line or umbilical cord between the water and the people that love the water,” he gushes. It’s a deep-rooted connection, like love or lust or hunger.
And yet, working in the marine industry wasn’t even in his original life plan. Winch graduated from Saint Martin’s School of Art in London with a degree in sculpture. But his father thought studying design would be “safer,” so he went back to school to study interior and 3D design at London’s Kingston College of Art. This—particularly the training in seeing three-dimensionally—laid the groundwork for his career. He discovered that what he really wanted to do was design boats, and it was there he realized he could.
Because of his lackluster math skills, Winch struggled with engineering and naval architecture, but he could envision the images and draw from his mind’s eye. He says, “You have to be able to see three-dimensionally to be successful in this field. That’s what I went to college to do. I see things three-dimensionally and draw them, and then they take shape.” Although it can take up to five years to complete a single project, Winch says he can draw a rendering of what the project will look like after just ten minutes of speaking with a client.
His talent for grasping three-dimensional design landed him his first job after graduation, as an apprentice designer for Jon Bannenberg. One of the most respected interior designers and exterior stylists still to this day, Bannenberg completed more than 200 yacht projects over his four-decade-long career (he died in 2002). Winch says the experience was “absolutely instrumental in learning the freedom of yacht design” and taught him the value of going beyond traditional styles. “If someone told him it was ugly midway through the project, he’d say, ‘Wait till I’m finished.’ Often, it would end up being a classic yacht of great beauty,” Winch explains.
This article originally appeared in the February 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.