The yachting industry is about to get all shook up; enter Julien Cadro, the young French yacht designer who is determined to inject new eco-friendly life into yachting. Brought up on the French Riveria, Julien was inspired by his seaside home to follow his dreams of bringing innovation to the industry. Julien took time out of his busy schedule to talk with Journalist Raj Gill all about how he became a yacht designer and coping with the pandemic and his plans for the future.
Tell me a little about yourself.
My name is Julien. I am 23 years old, and I’m a French yacht designer; I graduated in 2019.
Where did you grow up? And how did that influence the career you chose to pursue?
I grew up in France in a little seaside resort called La Baule. I decided to design yachts because I grew up next to the sea, going for many walks on the seafront when I was a child.
How did your journey as a designer begin?
My journey in yacht design is relatively new, as I am only 23 years old. My first contract was to be in England last March, but unfortunately, my contract was canceled due to the coronavirus. Then I built my design studio to work for a Monaco-based start-up specializing in building electric tenders.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by architecture. I try to develop simple and pure shapes that we can find in architecture, where all the lines are really organized.
Who inspires you?
If I have to talk about yacht design, I can say that I really like the work done by Lobanov design and Sinot design because I am seduced by their ideas and abilities to develop amazing global concepts. I also admire the work done by Luca Bassani with his Wally brand; he shook up the yacht industry. I have to say that I really love the work done by Guido De Groot and his team for Vanquish Yachts. Finally, I really like the work of the architect Roman Vlasov and the painter Françoise Nielly.
Yachts are not typically known to be eco-friendly; how will you incorporate this into your designs and still make them pleasing to the client?
I think that is certainly an issue with yachts, but things are moving. My first client, the Monaco based start-up, is building electric and eco-friendly boats. We have new eco-friendly materials to build yachts. I designed Ecoo to show a different version of what the future’s yachts could look like, especially with innovative materials. There are new projects of hydrogen boats, too, to decrease the carbon footprint. Many people are concerned about global warming so that things will change, I’m sure.
What unique qualities do you bring to the design process?
I studied design in an automotive design school, so I have a different approach from studying in yacht design school. I think I am quite good at finding some nice proportions and playing with them. If you look at my project Speculo or Praesidium, you can see that proportions are really different from what the yacht industry typically offers. I think that I am resilient, and I never give up.
How do you keep up to speed with the innovations in yacht design? Which designer do you most admire?
I think you have to be curious and keep reading news about the industry. I think that it’s important to dream of pushing the limits. I particularly admire Philipp Starck for his amazing work on Venus Yacht and the A yacht. I love the work of different design studios like Guido de Groot, Lobanov, Sinot Design, Vripack, Winch Design, Espen Oeino, and Alberto Mancini.
What are/have been the biggest challenges in your creative process?
I could say the biggest challenge I had was for my graduation project. The challenge was to design a sailing boat for disabled people. At this moment, this is just a graduation project, but I hope this project will become a reality soon because I am convinced that this project could be a breath of fresh air for disabled people.
What inspires you to work on a specific project?
I think the best engine to work on a project is to work on a challenging project when people tell you, “That’s not possible.” It just allows you to do your best.
What does your work process involve?
The most important thing is to ask questions to create the smartest project. I always try to be sure that my answer fits the client’s demand. After this analysis part, you can begin to draw and imagine the project, but the most important step is to understand what the client wants. If you are going in the right direction, the project will be really pleasurable.
What are the important lessons you have learned along the way?
Designers have to be resilient. The main lesson I’ve learned is that we have to understand precisely what the client wants. If you don’t clearly understand what the goal is, the main idea of the project, it will be a bad project, and it will not be pleasurable to work on.
What is the most favorite part of your job?
My favorite part is doing renders at the end of a project because thanks to the current tools, we can do some incredible photorealistic renders. At this stage, you can see if your project is good or not, and if all the decisions you took along the project were good or not.
What do you think sets your designs apart?
I think all my projects are quite simple, with tended lines and well proportioned. I like to have only a few strong lines to have a simple read of the boat. Design is all about proportions.
What is the best thing about being a designer?
The best thing is to have the opportunity to work on different projects and to express our creativity.
If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have become?
When I was a child, I wanted to become an architect. I was always drawing bikes, cars, boats, and houses. Today I often draw some houses just for enjoyment. That’s why I am really inspired by architecture.
How are you coping during this pandemic?
The beginning of the pandemic was hard because of my project being canceled, but I think that people suffered more than me, so we have to move forward.
Has it affected your work?
Yes, sure, but I think everybody was affected, in the right or the wrong way.
Has the demand for yachts increased or decreased?
I have been lucky to find new projects during this period, but globally the demand for yachts has decreased, many projects were postponed due to financial issues and uncertainty.
What exciting projects are in the pipeline for the rest of 2020 and 2021?
I am currently working on the contest of the Young Designer Award organized by Boat International. I am enjoying developing this project, and I hope it will gain the jury’s attention. My other great project is that I am currently moving from France to the Netherlands, a land of yacht design.
What is the one question you wish a journalist would ask?
“What is your favorite project?”
My answer would be my graduation project because I think that’s my smartest project.