We Asked Famed Yacht Designer Phillippe Briand to Weigh in on the Fantastically Unseaworthy Designs of Lujac Desautel

by Owen James Burke


Above: “Glass.” If a Great Lake were planning to install a new Museum of Modern Art, perhaps Lujac Desautel’s conceptual vessel, Glass (above) could find a relatively safe home. On second thought, remember the Edmund Fitgerald. Images: Lujac Desautel.

A few months ago, we were intrigued by a Wired story on the beautiful ‘sculpture yachts’ of a young French designer named Lujac Desautel. In A Yacht That Doesn’t Get in the Way of Your Ocean Views, Desautel said he took inspiration from places like Philip Johnson’s Connecticut Glass House. “There’s something so simple and powerful in its raw connection from the exterior to interior,” Desautel said. “I thought, what if I just took this idea and placed it on the boat?”

We were bowled over, but skeptical. Indeed, they are beautiful, revolutionary designs, but we just couldn’t see these things actually underway in the open ocean. In short, they looked unseaworthy. Perhaps dangerously so.


“Think Wrong, Be Bold, Move Fast.” – architect Lujac Desautel.
Above: “Salt”, a beautifully modernistic floating deathtrap.


Image: Lujac Desautel.

Being nautically curious, we asked world renowned naval architect and yacht designer Phillipe Briand, designer of yachts like the Vertigo 220 to weigh in on whether or not these glass-coated craft could keep passengers inside the rails, and the seas out. His verdict? They’re fantastically unseaworthy.


Phillipe Briand’s very seaworthy Vertigo 220. 

Briand told us that he was actually glad we asked him about Desautel’s designs. They get tons of attention on the Internet, he said, but they’re borderline irresponsible. “The designs were presented at the young designers contest organized by Boat International,” he said. “Those designs are not seaworthy at all. Those boats cannot be built as designed. It’s just a style exercise.”


Above: A beautifully modernistic floating impossibility. Image: Lujac Desautel.


And if all that glass were to shatter? That would be one unhappy overprivileged child. Image: Lujac Desautel.


Salt could play host to any number of elegant soirees – so long as there won’t be any swells.
Image: Lujac Desautel.

We were particularly intrigued with the cut out hull design and all the glass on the boat called “Salt,”which, it seemed, would have to have glass – or plexiglass at least six-inches thick. “It’s frightening to see that one would actually come across such drawings,” said Briand. “I do think they actually harm the profession of yacht designers, whose first objective is always to design a safe harbor for the guests onboard. Desautel is not the only person who has undertaken to publish such drawings; it has become more frequent.”


All that glass could be fairly problematic unless thicker than the Monterey Bay Aquarium. In which case Warren Buffett himself might not even want to scrape up the coin to have her built.
Blueprints for Glass. Image: Lujac Desautel.


Pipedreaming. Image: Lujac Desautel.

To his credit though, Lujac doesn’t seem to take himself – or his hydrodyamic education – all that seriously. On his blog he writes: My passion for designing boats is the collective sum of experiences and ideas that I have gained since crewing on yachts in the med in-between architecture school. I learned about the basic problems in yachts from crew efficiencies to owners frustrations and how they function interior to exterior. Having no formal education about yacht design, I began to ask very basic questions about why the designers and engineers would make things this way or that way. In that regard, I feel free of many constraints. I am wrong about many of the things I design but what is the fun without breaking rules! 

Even Captain Nemo could agree with that.



Image: Lujac Desautel.

So unless, like Caligula, your hopes revolve around building a multi-million-dollar yacht in a horsepond where it will sit unperturbed in ripple-less repose, save your coin, perhaps for something of a more seaward prestige. Might we suggest Commandant Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s Calypso, which could be yours for as little as $300,000?


(you can put the rest into her sorely needed TLC). -OJB

Facebook Comments