Part 2: All told, Winch has completed nearly 50 projects, won more than a dozen design awards, and worked alongside some of the top-name builders in the industry.
By Elizabeth Ginns Britten — February 2005
Winch inherited Bannenberg’s confidence in taking on any project. He left the firm after about five years to open up shop on his own and founded Andrew Winch Designs (AWD) with his wife, Jane, in 1986. His first solo project was a 36-foot sailboat with gullwing windows, followed by two 100-plus-foot projects. But a bigger challenge came in 1994, when Winch took on the design of his first-ever motoryacht, the 160-foot Feadship White Rabbit. He designed the interior to include an intricate two-level circular staircase (which has since become an AWD trademark) and a two-story sculpture made to look like bamboo with birds flying around it, symbolizing happiness, luck, and wealth. Moreover, the yacht’s circular dining table boasts an electric Lazy Susan—which Winch says is the first of its kind—situated on its middle. Guests at each place setting simply press the right or left button, and the food comes to them. The project ultimately garnered him two design awards from the Super Yacht Society.
Another first came soon after that, when Winch was chosen to do the complete interior design and exterior styling of the 170-foot Feadship Solemates. When she was completed in 1998, she was among the first yachts to have a full cinema system/screening room. And just four years after that, Winch designed a yacht featuring a seven- (yes, seven) story circular staircase and a “sports and spa court,” featuring a bilevel squash court with two walls constructed of glass and two walls constructed of steel.
All told, Winch has completed nearly 50 projects, won more than a dozen design awards, and worked alongside some of the top-name builders in the industry, such as Amels and Royal Huisman. His inspiration comes from seeing a “delicious” chair or a “sexy” car; reading design, gardening, architectural, or boating magazines; even traveling to an old house or a new airport. And unlike some designers who lack the ability to see three-dimensionally, most of his finished pieces are nearly identical to the dream that he scribbled on paper several years earlier.
Winch’s trick of the trade is simple: Listen to what owners want, go beyond that, and deliver a finished piece that is something they couldn’t but wanted to dream of. With each project he risks more, and he reveals he occasionally doubts himself: “Sometimes I think I’ve gone too far and wonder if I’ve risked too much. Then I see the end product and go, ‘God. I never thought it was going to look like this.’” Ultimately, however, he believes in his designs, his staff (some of whom he’s worked with for more than ten years), and his ability to transform an owner’s desire into reality. “People are amazed by the coordinated conclusion [of a design project]—which is usually grander than the original dream they had,” he says.
Such was the case with his latest project, the 200-foot Phoenix (see “Driving Force,” this issue). The owner wanted a floating home to pursue private, oceangoing cruises, but one that was simultaneously cozy and spacious. Winch seems to have achieved that balance all over the yacht, particularly in the owner’s bilevel suite. The stateroom, bathroom, and dressing rooms (no closets these) are located on the main-deck level, and a private stairway yields access to an office and sitting room. There’s also a private sundeck forward, where the owner can have a moment alone or an intimate meal with his wife, or others, should he wish to extend an invitation, as it’s a large space. Says Winch, “You could have 60 or even 80 people there, or you could have four. The decks work as living spaces instead of purely decks; they flow and have intimacy and privacy, yet they have expansiveness for partying, too.”
With his next projects already underway—including a 396-foot “floating castle” in the Far East and a 180-foot Amels coming in 2006 that will be so minimalist that there will be no visible doors, moldings, or cornices—Winch and his company are focused on remaining among the most innovative and technically competent design teams in the world. “You have to be willing to break the rules to create the future—even on classic yachts. You can’t be restricted—then you’re creating pastiche—you’re not creating originality,” he explains. He urges owners considering their first big-yacht project to do the same: “Full steam ahead! It’s such an exciting thing to do in one’s life. At home, there’s always a phone to answer, a meeting to go to. You can have that on a boat, or not. It can be whatever you want it to be. It’s a wonderful escape. It’s phenomenal.”
How’s that for inspiration?
Andrew Winch Designs ( (44) 20 8392 8400. www.andrew-winch-designs.co.uk.
This article originally appeared in the February 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.