The world of superyachts is shrouded in the kind of uber-luxury that most can only gawk at from the shore, but for Isaac Burrough — a Kiwi designer for whom these vessels have become a professional pursuit — it’s a world of opportunity. “I grew up around boats, and I knew that I wanted to be a boat designer from a young age,” Burrough explains, crediting his entrée into superyacht design to landing an assistant-designer role at Dutch company, Feadship, creating some of the world’s most impressive seafaring vessels from scratch. (Feadship is one of a very small global contingent who can truly claim to make custom superyachts.)
After cutting his teeth in lofty places, Burrough eventually decided to start his own studio, which has seen him continue to consult as a superyacht designer for other companies, where he helps them move from concept to completion. So far, his expertise has contributed to the completion of eight superyachts, with a few more still being built. Under his own name, Burrough has also developed a number of intriguing superyacht designs, the most notable of which became something of an Internet sensation when it was unveiled last year.
Named Kiwa, (after one of the Māori Gods of the sea), Burrough’s conceptual superyacht garnered attention for its emphasis on sustainability, something that others of its kind haven’t historically deemed a priority. “Superyachts use diesel generators to produce power,” Burrough explains, “but there has been a push in the industry towards more efficient hulls and powertrains to reduce environmental impact.” The way this idea manifested in Kiwa, was via a series of solar panels, applied by Burrough in such a way as to enhance the yacht’s sleek aesthetic (rather than being a necessary eyesore, as they so often are). “Now, I just need a client who wants to build it,” says Burrough, steadfast in his vision to develop Kiwa beyond concept alone.
But, as Burrough says, building his own design studio while still consulting as a freelancer on live projects affords him the freedom to dream up ideas like Kiwa, that serve to push the boundaries of expectation and cement his innovative reputation in the industry. “I want to encourage people to think about things in new ways and to encourage the industry to do better,” he says, “to use different materials and processes from the ones superyacht designers have been using for years.”
Having recently relocated from Amsterdam back to New Zealand, Burrough is bringing his wealth of knowledge from working in the European market to a new audience and client base, for whom the idea of sustainability on the sea is already pushing to the forefront.