By Robert Wielaard

After years of dark hues, red is today a dominant color in Amsterdam billboards and graffiti. Bert de Vries knows that. And therein lies a message. In recent months, he and other Vripack designers have begun plumbing design ideas from worlds of music, fashion, art etc. to stimulate their own ideas and work. Their online VriThink! platform explores colors, styles, shapes and fabrics that just might work on a yacht as well as on urban furniture, chic handbags or fraying billboards. Question of out-of-the-boat thinking.

De Vries: “We need to look for innovations outside the brick walls of our studio.” Recently, he walked a dozen yachting media types through Amsterdam for some out-of-the-boat thinking, trend watching and graffiti spraying on a derelict lot. Ah, the glamour of yacht designing!

With 7,000 projects under its belt, Vripack is the world’s biggest independent yacht designing and engineering company. That city tour was not a tongue-in-cheek event. Vripack director Marnix Hoekstra: “In lots of industries we see designers veer off the well-trodden path looking for fresh ideas. Fashion designers borrow colors and shapes from street art. Yacht designers and engineers too, need to think outside our comfort zone.”

On a recent commercial project, Vripack put sweeping structural arches on the windows of a 135m North Sea ferry. Out-of-the-boat thinking is not limited to Vripack designers. Its  engineers put a 3D-printed gangway on the company’s V20 solar race boat. “We’ll see a lot of 3D-printed parts in the yachting industry in the future,” says Hoekstra.

Vripack’s design commitment is part of an initiative to reduce a yacht’s construction time by as much as 25% by late 2019. Vripack says it is working on some “revolutionary research projects” but does not elaborate. Hoekstra believes an 85m boat can be built in as little as 18 months.

“We are developing ‘smart building’ ideas, for instance by stepping up synergy between designers and builders,” says Nienke Tromp, head of marketing at Vripack. “That’s all we can say for now.” Vripack has already a reputation in ‘smart kit’ construction. In 2010, Holland’s Jetten Yachting built a 22m Vripack-designed Gamma-20 luxury yacht in only eight months.