New materials have always offered new opportunities on both a functional and aesthetic plane. In the nautical world, the shift from wood to fibreglass and then carbon-fibre introduced new styles to exteriors and interiors. A good example is motorboats: when they were being built from wood, their exterior lines were all flat surfaces, sharp angles and matt paintwork to hide imperfections. The advent of fibreglass saw lines become rounder because it was impossible to mould perfectly flat surfaces while rounded ones popped out of the mould absolutely flawless. Today we have added a new material, laminated glass which can even be used in hulls. As a result lines are changing still further to allow these ultra-flat panels fit into hulls (curved windows are too expensive). So new materials are strongly influencing the look of our boats yet again. In the sailing arena, Wally has introduced many innovations, amongst them two materials that have influenced design more than any others: carbon and titanium. Carbon has allowed us to build very stiff masts with the result that the big old genoas can be replaced with smaller jibs. It has made boats lighter too with broader and flatter waterlines. Hence the new generation of boats with very broad sterns, large interior spaces and superlative speeds on a close reach. Bare carbon is used in interiors not just for its lightness and toughness but aesthetic impact. Even the car industry has jumped on that bandwagon, going so far as to invent fake carbon for interiors. It is the same story with titanium, which is light, stiff, doesn’t tarnish and is warmer in colour than most other metals. It has thus become an essential construction material as well as a style and furnishing go-to. Just two examples of how new materials improve both function and aesthetics. Here’s to the next ones!