Adam Lay Studio Diaries: Inukshuk 1/3

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Insight into the creative processes and collaborations behind the interior design of the multiple award-winning 32.6m/107’ light-weight carbon composite sailing yacht Inukshuk; Part 1 of 3.


We are proud to say that every interior we design is uniquely tailored to each of our clients’ individual tastes. A clear and concise design brief is always the start of any successful creative and collaborative process.

In the case of Inukshuk, the design brief called for us to take inspiration from the owner’s favourite Lakeland region of North America. Being a remote wilderness and not practical for us to travel to – although we would have loved to have visited – we worked with images supplied by the owner along with a recommendation to attend an exhibition in London by a famous group of artists who specialise in painting the region in question. This, backed-up by our own in-depth research online, in books and by finding examples of native flora and fauna growing in arboretums and gardens in our native England, gave us our starting point.

For the fixed joinery inside the yacht, the bulkheads, sole, deckhead and built-in furniture, we used a palette of colours and textures to create an atmosphere reflecting silver grey tree bark, windswept fallen trees bleached by the elements, driftwood, granite boulders and shimmering water.


Tree bark inspiration at Hilliers Arboretum, Hampshire. Photo: Adam Lay

Baltic Yachts’ joinery department set to work making samples of silver-grey upholstered fabric panels, limed oak and dark grey painted oak brushed with stiff nylon rotary brushes to bring out the grain, which meant the veneer had to be thicker than that which might normally be used. The owner wanted to embrace the natural qualities of the timber – accepting its knots and imperfections – but the whole team were used to owners looking for a pristine blemish-free finish so this was not an easy task and thus the term “perfect imperfection” was often used to describe our design philosophy – and all this on a lightweight foam core.

The resulting silver grey bulkheads, dark grey sole boards, limed oak built-in furniture and shimmering grey bulkhead and deckhead fabric, all set-off by carefully positioned lighting, has all the background elements of the natural environment from which we were taking our inspiration.

Tree bark was the inspiration for the plaster finish on the wardrobe door panels which were made by Baltic Yachts and then shipped to London to a very talented company called Calfe Crimmings, where a thin layer of plaster was applied to both sides of the doors and drawer fronts (to reduce the risk of warping), worked to a perfect finish, allowed to dry and then sealed before being shipped back to Finland for installation.


These carefully developed finishes provided a neutrality to the fixed décor that sat comfortably with sensible resale considerations and which provided a backdrop to be further embellished to the owner’s specific tastes.

In Part 2:  I’ll be explaining how the hand-made special items of furniture and wall lights would come to life as part of our creative process.

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