Published: Monday, 08 April 2013
Mike Fulton

Rupert Mann of Rainsford Mann Designs recently discussed the stylistic inspiration behind the 88-metre superyacht project Illusion which is currently under construction at the Raffles Shipyard in China.

The original brief from the owner was to design a timeless state-of-the-art 21st century motor yacht, using design cues and styling influence from the classic lines and exquisite detailing of the Rolls Royce motorcar.

Rolls Royce Inspires Superyacht Project Illusion

The whole team at RMD descended on Jack Barclay’s in Berkeley Square, London, and proceeded to climb all over some of the most desirable Rolls Royce motorcars they could find. They studied the design rudiments of the wonderfully fluid styling of the exterior and discovered that the 'golden arc' of the undercarriage which travels from the far tip of the rear wheel to the front of the bonnet is a 'sacred' shape that acts as the constant starting point for all Rolls Royce cars. They noted that the blunt but elegant bonnet shape contrasts with the fluid dropped boot line with three dimensional panel lines connecting the two elements. They then spent time studying every aspect of the evolution of the modern classic Rolls Royce styling and started to integrate some of these key lines into the hull and superstructure of the Raffles 88-metre yacht. Key features they used were the blunt bow and surface indentation as well as the boot shape and the fluid lines for the superstructure. For fun they made a retractable modern interpretation of a 'Spirit of Ecstasy' for the bow that can be automatically retracted like the real mascot on the automotive version. To reflect Rolls Royce’s generous proportions they also ensured that this 88-metre boat still looked slender and elegant but retained a very generous beam.

The styling of the hull was designed by Rainsford Mann Design together with naval architecture by Azure Naval Architects. The hull has unique surface detailing and a two-tone livery. The interior is very well thought through with some striking spaces such as the water-level ocean lounge aft, the family sitting room that can convert to a children’s play room and the brightly lit full beam master suite with private spa and bathing complex. There is a private cinema on the lower deck and a gym/sky lounge on the top deck. Generous proportions have also been given to crew cabins and mess areas. The power plant and much of the equipment in the helms station uses Roll Royce equipment. This project is a combination of European design, Rolls Royce equipment, Western management and great Chinese engineering.

Raffles shipyard is the leisure yard born out of Yantai Raffles, one of the foremost commercial shipbuilders in the world. It brings some 25 years of experience in engineering and building some of the world's largest and most complicated craft to this project. No stone was left unturned in the engineering of this yacht, being first drawn up in 3D right down to the last screw. This measured approach has ensured that a beautiful boat of unequalled quality will be produced.