Guillaume Rolland, Director Yacht Design Liaigre tells us about the untold story behind the pictures. “We create interiors you can only understand by experiencing them.”
Tekst Anja Van Der Borght
You have a passion for sailing and design. Could you tell us what type of sailing you engage in and how this passion was born?
GR: ” I started sailing when I was around ten. I remember being at my grandparents’ holiday house in Brittany when my grandmother decided to register me for a free afternoon at the sailing school. On the first day, I jumped on the Optimist, a small, single-handed sailing dinghy, and I was immediately captivated. When my grandmother brought me home, I insisted on stopping at the press shop to buy all the sailing magazines, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Today, I own several boats, including racing boats for One-Design races, a Dragon and a Star, both of which are historical classes but still very active. I also have a 2.4mR, a popular one-person sailboat in countries like the Netherlands and Belgium. Additionally, I own a small wooden-built cruising classic yacht from 1969 for family cruising. On top of that, I am part of a French crew of 11 people that competes in offshore and inshore racing throughout the year.”
What does yachting design represent for you?
GR: “For me, there is no such thing as yacht design. Yacht design is more about naval architecture and styling the yacht. When it comes to interior yacht design, it is not a separate field; it is just architecture. I believe that whether you’re designing a nice interior for a small one-room apartment or a big house, a small boat or a large boat, it is still a matter of architecture. You have to have a good understanding of architecture and be able to solve problems through architectural principles and expressions. Personally, I don’t differentiate when I approach a layout for an apartment or a yacht. It’s all about respecting the flow of human beings in the space and dressing the space around them in the most comfortable, welcoming, respectful, and calm way. The interior should also reflect the personality of the user. Our interiors are tailored around the people who inhabit them.”
What sets Liaigre apart from other interior design companies?
GR: “I have been part of the judging panel for yacht awards, giving me the chance to visit and experience many boats and I’ve realized that many interior designers simply take the layout created by the shipyards and engineers, which is often just a placeholder. They dress it up with materials without considering the space itself. The result is often uncomfortable, lacking peace and harmony, devoid of poetry. When working on plans, there is a way of placing objects together, similar to building a scenario for a movie. Each sequence, each element, when properly constructed, creates a magical outcome. The same applies to space. If you have control over this and the sensitivity to place objects that interact with one another, you create a kind of poetry. People may have an idea of Liaigre through magazines and books, but experiencing a Liaigre space is a completely different story. The style you see in the pictures has nothing to do with the experience you have when you are in the space. When people enter our interiors, the first thing they experience is that everything is exactly in the right place, with the right proportions, and that’s what creates comfort. Comfort at Liaigre is not just a visual result; it’s a result of the space itself. It is the secret behind our strong work around the human being, something that cannot be seen in pictures. It’s something you have to experience through movement. As a person, your eyes, your skin, the size of your body—you can only receive emotion by being physically present in the space.”
Guillaume Rolland: “People often forget that a space is the movement of the eye within that space. You cannot think of a space by merely creating visually pleasing lines; your eye will just wash over everything and take in the entire surroundings, equating to what you receive from that space. You capture it all, and you can feel when something harmonious surrounds you.”
Do you consider yourself to be the musician of the yacht world or more of a movie director?
GR: “I see myself more as a director. I am passionate about cinema because there is an incredible connection between the emotions conveyed by movies and those delivered by a space. ‘Cinema’, derived from the word ‘cinematography’, is the art of movement, just like space. When you move in a space, it is an art of movement. People often forget that a space is the movement of the eye within that space. You cannot think of a space by merely creating visually pleasing lines; your eye will just wash over everything and take in the entire surroundings, equating to what you receive from that space. You capture it all, and you can feel when something harmonious surrounds you.”
Could you tell us about your involvement with the SD118? Was it a custom order?
GR: “The SD118 was a yacht from an Italian shipyard, San Lorenzo, and part of a series of GRP (glass resin polyester) plastic boats. It was our first time working on this type of vessel, and it happened to be one of the smallest we’ve ever created. The owner had a specific request for his bedroom. Being an early bird, he wanted to have his morning routine without disturbing his wife or crossing through the bedroom. Accomplishing this in a limited space that is not very wide presented a challenge. To meet his demand, we devised a layout that had never been done on a yacht of that size. Instead of the typical layout with a full-width bed, windows on opposite sides, and adjacent rooms, we created a night capsule concept with a belt around. The bed was placed in a capsule on the left side with only one window. Upon entering the cabin, you would encounter the wardrobe, office, bathroom, toilet, and shower encircling the night capsule. This layout allowed you to navigate around the night part of the yacht with ease. The fluidity of the design ensured a seamless experience.”
Are there any specific trends in the industry today?
GR: “Sustainability is a prevalent topic, but it’s challenging to apply to the interior of a yacht. Most of the materials we have been using for over thirty years are natural, such as stone, pinetree, oak, walnut, and more. We can focus on traceability and the products and glues we use, but the materials’ trace is often determined by their origin. In terms of trends, I notice a shift in habits. In the eighties, yachts were primarily used to display wealth and as business assets like in The Wolf of Wall Street, but today, it’s the reverse. The new generation of yacht owners is less interested in showcasing wealth; they buy a yacht to truly enjoy themselves. It becomes a tool to explore uncharted territories, providing a sense of freedom. Today a yacht is the last item that provides a true freedom on earth.”