It’s a name that goes hand in hand with some of the finest yachts ever built.
Since Winch and his wife Jane started up in 1986 with the first project, a Swan 36 sailboat, the company has grown enormously: as well as being the foremost yacht designer in the industry, it now has a transport division for helicopters, jets and cars, a shore based projects division with an interior decorating team creating turnkey design projects, and 45 staff. It is a huge, luxury industry where every project involves big money, but for Winch, what makes him proud is simply creating beautiful things that clients will fall in love with.
“One client said: Andrew, my wife loves the interior but I just like to sit in the tender and look at the boat. I am just in love with what it looks like. I started my design career at art college wanting to be a sculptor, so to build something sitting on the water that the owner looks at as a sculpture, an object, and just loves. I am very proud of that. It is what got me into it.”
But while he concedes that it is “an aspirational area of life”, he strongly believes that a yacht should be something its owner loves so much that it becomes a necessity. This he learnt from Jon Bannenberg, who gave him his first job as an apprentice designer.
So how does he get to know his clients well enough to know what they want more than they do themselves? “Communication,” says Winch. “An awful lot of being in touch with them, meeting them.” He pauses. “But actually it is probably intuitive. It is just something I think I have been very lucky to have. Myself and a number of our team. You have to have the courage to ask the questions that open the doors to the relationship being built. Which side of the bed do they sleep on? Because that affects which bathroom they go to. Do they read in bed? Does one go to sleep and one not? How do they want their wardrobe laid out? Where do they want their beautiful shirts, their underwear, their jewellery? Very intimate questions, because you have to get to know them really well.”
But if he has to realise the perfect vision of people with vastly varying briefs, can there be an identifiable Andrew Winch signature? “What I have found more and more exciting in 25 years is that no two people are the same. Every single job we have done is a different brief and a different solution. And I am not a designer who enjoys redoing something I have done before, so when people ask what my signature is, I say: individuality, probably.
Creativity, choice, options and quality of detail are vital, and those are the things that are my signature.
Not being restricted by a signature shape or colour means Winch is free to run with his and the imaginations of his clients. He travels widely, and is planning to travel more with Jane, who this year retired from the company and is now a non executive director. “I want to go and see places that I am not going to for work, to have the pleasure of being inspired,” he says. Inspiration, he adds, can come from anywhere. “I might see something from an interior, or a view that feels right, or I might see a tree or a pathway, or a swimming pool or a beach.”
So what is next for superyachts? The next big trend, thinks Winch, will be for flotillas of floating homes, with the owners yacht cruising alongside an expedition yacht and a sailing boat to sleep his guests. “Because it allows the client to build more toys, more things,” he says excitedly.
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