The Winch Way

An­drew Winch’s life in de­sign.

SuperYacht World - - Contents - Words | Alexan­dra Groom

Ial­ways say the next project is more ex­cit­ing than the last,” is a thrilling sen­tence to hear com­ing from a man who counts Madame Gu, Ace and Dil­bar among the yachts in his ex­ten­sive port­fo­lio. What ever could come next? The mind bog­gles.

This year An­drew Winch is cel­e­brat­ing the mile­stone of 30 years of Winch De­sign, and there is a sig­nif­i­cant amount to re­flect on. Not con­tent, how­ever, with be­ing one of the in­dus­try’s elite yacht de­sign­ers, he is also cel­e­brat­ing 15 years of the Winch Avi­a­tion Studio team and ten years since the in­cep­tion of his Ar­chi­tec­ture Studio. It’s an im­pres­sive tally, and speaks vol­umes about a man pas­sion­ately ded­i­cated to de­sign in all its forms. Only one other thing left to cel­e­brate this year: his 60th birth­day.

“I grew up on the South Coast in Bosham, Chich­ester Har­bour. My fa­ther still lives there, and I learnt to sail with him. Sail­ing was what ini­tially got me into boat de­sign. I sailed across the At­lantic as a skip­per when I was 21, on a 52-footer. When I came back to Europe I de­cided I didn’t want to be crew, I wanted to de­sign!”

Af­ter ini­tially train­ing as a sculp­tor, Winch moved into 3D de­sign, be­fore join­ing the renowned studio of Jon Ban­nen­berg.“i spent six years with Jon Ban­nen­berg as an ap­pren­tice. I’m still very good friends with his son Dickie, which is lovely, and also one of my former col­leagues, Tim Hey­wood, who I’m work­ing with now on five projects.” Winch isn’t name-drop­ping, and al­though a con­ver­sa­tion with him about his projects will in­evitably in­volve lots of ‘big names’, it serves not to im­press, but to show the qual­ity of his col­lab­o­ra­tions and the mu­tual re­spect he en­joys with his peers.

Winch is also en­joy­ing two spe­cific yacht­ing mile­stones in 2016, both col­lab­o­ra­tions: “We’re cel­e­brat­ing de­liv­er­ing Dil­bar, the largest pri­vate yacht in the world by vol­ume, and also cel­e­brat­ing prob­a­bly the most suc­cess­ful 64-foot sail­ing yacht ever, the Jean­neau 64, at the same time!” says Winch.

On the su­pery­acht spec­trum, there isn’t re­ally an ap­pro­pri­ate metaphor to de­scribe how far these two land­marks are apart from each other. But not ac­cord­ing to Winch, that’s not im­por­tant: “The size is not the is­sue, but the suc­cess of the project,” he in­sists. “The qual­ity, the suc­cess and the plea­sure that peo­ple get from us­ing it, see­ing it, and liv­ing on it.” So, whilst on a meta­phys­i­cal level the two projects are the same, an el­e­men­tal com­par­i­son shows the sheer range of Winch’s work: Dil­bar weighs 15,917 gross tonnes; the Jean­neau weighs just 30.5 gross tonnes.

Winch en­sures his studio give the same amount of at­ten­tion to de­tail to ev­ery project, which goes some way to ex­plain­ing his suc­cess across the ranges. The Jean­neau came about through a close col­lab­o­ra­tion with French designer Philippe Briand, and Dil­bar was a project with Espen Øino, who drew her ex­te­rior lines. Winch and his team put their ex­per­tise to work on the in­te­rior spa­ces of Dil­bar: “We have been lucky enough to work on some of the most beau­ti­ful and note­wor­thy su­pery­achts and it has been a priv­i­lege to work on Dil­bar. She was a large and com­plex project but we had the ex­pe­ri­ence and scale to man­age with­out com­pro­mis­ing other projects,” ex­plains Winch. “The yacht team worked very closely with our in­te­ri­ors team so we had a large num­ber of peo­ple work­ing to­gether to achieve the best re­sults – Dil­bar was a won­der­ful project for all who were lucky enough to be in­volved.”

How­ever you pack­age it, Dil­bar was a mon­u­men­tal project, and is cur­rently the most sought-af­ter yacht for yacht-spot­ters and afi­ciona­dos to get close to. “The main chal­lenge with a project of this size was just the sheer amount of re­source needed. We give ev­ery project the same at­ten­tion to de­tail so it was just about scal­ing up,” says Winch. “We have ob­vi­ously learnt a huge amount over the past 30 years and each project teaches us some­thing new. We har­nessed all of our com­bined ex­pe­ri­ence and de­sign tal­ent to en­sure this project was run in ex­actly the same as ev­ery other Winch project. The com­plex­i­ties of de­sign has ob­vi­ously changed over 30 years

and client ex­pec­ta­tions have also de­vel­oped, but this is a good thing, as we en­joy the chal­lenge and want to push bound­aries. The end re­sult is very much worth all of the hard work.”

And it’s not just enor­mous yachts the Winch de­sign team work on. “We’ve just drawn an A380 for a client – it will be great if it ever hap­pens!” says Winch. Boe­ing Busi­ness Jets and Air­bus Cor­po­rate Jets are mainly what the Avi­a­tion Studio fo­cuses on, and they have four projects on at the mo­ment, one of which is the first Dream­liner-900, the long­est 787 yet.

“I’ve got at least a few clients that have mul­ti­ple Winch prod­ucts. And that’s great, it’s a great treat!” says Winch. “I love the syn­ergy of our clients liv­ing in a Winch house, fly­ing in a Winch plane, and step­ping onto their Winch yacht hav­ing gone out to it on a Winch ten­der or heli­copter. Each of those ex­pe­ri­ences should be fun and a plea­sure, and they are about a cul­ture of life. We build a life for our clients.” Winch also some­how manages to take on projects ac­ci­den­tally: “I had a client who walked in here and said ‘I know you do yachts but I don’t want a yacht, so don’t talk about yachts, I want a plane.’ And half way through he said ‘I ac­tu­ally re­ally like the yachts, let’s do a yacht as well.’ So we started a yacht project!”

The tech­ni­cal­i­ties needed for in­te­rior yacht de­sign is what has en­abled Winch to seam­lessly nav­i­gate the waters of avi­a­tion and prop­erty projects. “We just fin­ished an apart­ment in Lon­don for a fam­ily with two chil­dren and 30 staff. We had to de­sign the in­te­rior like a yacht, which is why he hired us. He said ‘I can see what you do on the yacht projects: you never see the crew in a Winch yacht.’ They can be com­pletely in­vis­i­ble be­cause of the routes we work. They have their own back-of-house and I’ve been do­ing that for some time. It’s a very Bri­tish tra­di­tion and it works very well. In this Lon­don project the chef has sep­a­rate kitchens in an­other apart­ment, which might seem strange to some, but that hap­pens on a yacht any­way, the gal­ley is on an­other floor. So it’s ab­so­lutely the same de­sign­ing a yacht as de­sign­ing a fan­tas­tic apart­ment in Knights­bridge.”

For Winch, build­ing a re­la­tion­ship with the client is just as im­por­tant as build­ing the project, and he will only take on clients with whom he can build that emo­tional con­nec­tion. “Our clients are our pa­trons. They com­mis­sion the con­struc­tion of some­thing unique, whether it’s a yacht or car­pets and art­work. It’s think­ing about life­styles: we put our­selves into the equa­tion in ev­ery de­tail. So we ask ques­tions: how big should the shower be? Well, how big is the shower at home? He’ll want the same. Which side of the bed does he sleep on? Be­cause then that’s the side for the bath­room. Lit­tle things make a big dif­fer­ence.”

Good de­sign can be so spec­tac­u­lar that even the cre­ators are in awe, “I walked back into Ace last year and I went, ‘Crickey, did we de­sign this?!’ It takes your breath away when you haven’t seen it for a cou­ple of years,” laughs Winch.

But one of the most im­por­tant qual­i­ties is be­ing able to start from the right block. “I think the most im­por­tant thing is to lis­ten. It’s very dif­fi­cult to cre­ate a great project if you don’t know where the tar­get is.” And some­times you can hit the tar­get too well. “The sad thing some­times, is some clients have said, ‘An­drew I’d love to do a new boat, but I love the one I’ve got too much al­ready!’ The owner of Cy­c­los III kept it 25 years! He said ‘I’m never go­ing to change it be­cause it fits me like a glove.’ I should have done it not so well so he would have bought more projects! But in all se­ri­ous­ness, I’m very proud that our clients keep their yachts for such a long time.”

As well as lis­ten­ing to his clients’ wishes, Winch knows when to in­clude more per­sonal sug­ges­tions. “On Sea Owl we carved a four-storey magic tree based on Peter Pan. I grew up in

“I walked back in and went CRICKEY, did WE de­sign this!”

Kens­ing­ton and go­ing to the gar­dens to see the sculp­ture was an in­spi­ra­tion. I told that story to the own­ers who are grand­par­ents and they loved it. They said: ‘Let’s make a magic wall of ev­ery­thing about Amer­ica!’” The yacht was an in­ter­est­ing project for the Winch studio. “We were build­ing the first Sea Owl, a 43-me­tre at Burger Yachts, when the clients said: ‘We’ve al­ready re­alised it’s not go­ing to be big enough. An­drew, we want you to start de­sign­ing a new boat. Max­i­mum size is 62 me­tres, let’s get on with it!’ So we hadn’t even fin­ished the first one when we started the big­ger one.” The clients kept both yachts for dif­fer­ent types of cruising. “Ev­ery week­end in sum­mer they get on a boat. It’s a sense of free­dom, and it re­laxes the par­ents and the chil­dren and grand­chil­dren. It’s about them lov­ing their spa­ces.”

An oc­cu­pa­tional hazard for Winch is de­sign­ing mas­ter­pieces that only a small com­mu­nity will ever be able to ap­pre­ci­ate. In comes Portonovi, a new high-end de­vel­op­ment in Mon­tene­gro, with a brand-new ma­rina and Winch-de­signed yacht club. “This is the first pub­lic space project for Winch De­sign which makes it even more ex­cit­ing!” says Winch. “The build­ing will be a fan­tas­tic show­case for the ar­chi­tec­ture team, and the free-form de­sign will chal­lenge all of us that are in­volved with this project and will pro­duce an iconic land­mark build­ing of which we can all be very proud. So many of the projects that we work on are con­fi­den­tial so it is a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity for us to show the world what we can do.”

As would be ex­pected for such a mile­stone year, Winch and his studio want to cel­e­brate. “I love par­ties I must say!” says Winch. But Jane, An­drew’s wife and busi­ness part­ner, came up with a bet­ter idea. “She said we should do some­thing that gives money rather than spends it.” And so, the Lon­don to Monaco bike ride was born. Winch and mem­bers of his team, along with any­one else who wants to par­tic­i­pate, are cy­cling from the Tower of Lon­don to the Palace in Monaco, ar­riv­ing in time for the yacht show, to raise money for the Blue Ma­rine Foun­da­tion. “We wanted to do some­thing for the sea that’s given us 30 years of our in­dus­try. We re­ally care about the Blue Ma­rine Foun­da­tion and try­ing to clean up the seas and stop over­fish­ing. We want to do some­thing that isn’t about spending money. We can spend £100,000 very quickly on a piece of fur­ni­ture for a client if it’s got to be unique. It’s not un­til you try and raise money for some­thing like spon­sor­ship that you re­alise how much £1,000 is.” It’s a di­chotomy the team are chal­leng­ing, hop­ing to raise £500,000 for the char­ity.

So what does the next 30 years look like for Winch De­sign? “I want to en­joy ev­ery op­por­tu­nity for cre­ativ­ity, be­cause that’s the in­spir­ing thing that keeps us all want­ing to be here and work,” says Winch. “We’re a studio of dream mak­ers, but with a her­itage of knowl­edge. We dream big dreams to cre­ate the fu­ture of de­sign the way we see it.” And it’s not only yachts he has his de­sign eye on. “I’d love to do more wa­ter­side ar­chi­tec­tural projects and fur­ni­ture col­lec­tions. It would be fun to be show­ing our work a lit­tle less exclusively.” The studio has a lot to be proud of, and has brought to life some stun­ning yachts. Their unique de­sign makes them stand the test of time; a sur­pris­ingly slen­der bow, or a dra­matic aft stair­case: “Winch De­sign is about pro­duc­ing dy­namic de­sign, what­ever the project. We don’t have a house style and view each project with a com­pletely fresh eye.”

Winch em­ploys around 70 peo­ple in his of­fices on the Thames, the same stretch of ti­dal river he’s been on for 30 years. Those waters could never have imag­ined in 1986 the yachts that they would in­spire in 2016, but that’s the gift of Winch De­sign. SYW

“I want to EN­JOY ev­ery op­por­tu­nity for CRE­ATIV­ITY”

Above: The 99-me­tre Madame Gu is one of Winch’s most fa­mous cre­ations. Left: One of the studio’s many city apart­ment projects. Right: In­te­rior de­sign for wide-body busi­ness jets is in high de­mand at Winch De­sign. Far right: The beau­ti­ful Vic­to­ria of Strat­hearn, now Huck­le­berry, was one of Winch’s ear­lier projects.

Above: Winch De­sign did the in­te­ri­ors for Dil­bar, the world’s largest su­pery­acht by vol­ume. Far left: Ace was an­other stun­ning project for the studio, here show­ing her unique aft stair­case. Left: A Winch-de­signed pri­vate villa in the Sey­chelles. Right: Cr

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