Norwegian yacht designer Paul Solly draws inspiration from the water, away from his office, but he is still at work. He runs the motor yachts that his company produces.
«Almost all ideas come to me on a boat," says Mr. Solly, 46-year-old owner and CEO of the company. The Goldfish Boat.Located in the small port of Son, in Oslo Fjord, which is 30 miles south of the Norwegian capital. - It's like recharging when I'm here».
Goldfish creates both navigable and stylish motor boats. They cope with 12-foot waves and look like the best examples of European design - clean lines and glossy appearance. Solly, by his own admission, took some ideas from his favourite «Lamborghini» and Omega watches. His clients are billionaires who buy Goldfish as a tender for big boats to go shopping in Saint-Tropez. There are other types of clients, including the Norwegian Minister of Defence. A few quite significant changes, and the billionaires' «toy» can be dumped off an airplane and used as an escort ship in the pirate-infested waters of the Horn of Africa.
Mr. Solly is a self-taught designer, he started out as a professional carpenter and personally built prototypes of the boats he invented.
When it all started, he trusted his small team of eight working in his home to reach a decisive verdict.
«When I got the idea, we'd sit down and start talking»," Solly said in the huge office overlooking the Goldfish showroom. He had to make sure the concept was right on the marketing and technical side before moving on to the design stage. The new boat was conceived as a leisure model, but with the potential to become the basis for professional orders.
Just a few years ago Solly worked alone, inventing new boats and sketching them. Now he works closely with an assistant who translates his design ideas into electronic form. This arrangement of forces allows, as Solly says, to work «7 or even 8 times faster»than before.
Solly-san draws with a special marker on the glass table, and his assistant translates the sketches into computer images. That's what they do all» «day long for weeks.
«Just drawing something that looks like a boat takes hours»," Solly said. It takes a lot longer to do «real things». And while the office can play music at any time of day, the two are silent during the design - «to stay focused».
The design starts with the case. «It's important that there's nothing to be nagged about," he says, "redesigning the hull will take too much money and time».
When Solly is satisfied with the result, he sends the project to the contractors who make the preliminary moulds, this is the first step towards actual project implementation. Before the mold is ready, the contractor makes a so-called «cast» - Solly-san calls it a boat» «sculpture - made of fiberglass, plastic and foam. The mold is a life-size model, as well as a vital opportunity to test the boat for viability.
The designer's latest project is the 50 foot Ocean 50, the longest boat he has ever designed. When he first saw her model in February at the factory in the west of Norway, he immediately understood that the boat «lines were exactly what they were looking»for. To see a cast for the first time, as he says, «is one of the most enjoyable moments of the process».
During the design, Solly did not keep in his head the type of a certain yacht buyer. However, the boat, he explains, can be used as a «toy» for day trips. Her large volumes are also suitable for professional use by police or military personnel. These days, they need «to accommodate more equipment and more people» on motor boats.
Once all the parts have been delivered to the designer's office, he and his small team spend several weeks assembling the prototype.
There has to be as few people on the project as possible," Solly says, "otherwise you lose control».
The working day starts at 7am and lasts until 10pm. The process of building the boat, from the original idea to the finished prototype, is interrupted by numerous «breaks» and breaks that alternate with the drumming. Mr. Solly believes that the breaks are good: The «product will not be good enough if you do not let it grow alone»for a while.
During the construction phase, Solly always finds mistakes, he calls them part «of the game». For example, when Ocean 50's design was ready, he realized that the boat was too narrow and too low - in general, it looked like a «very fast»boat.
It's silly when a boat looks 'all 100' or can only go 60-65 knots»," he decided. The design has been changed.
Solly says it's easy»to «make changes to the prototype, but he can «see the problem right away and understand how it can be fixed». After that, the boat is ready for testing on the open sea.
The new Ocean 50 first touched the water in July, half an hour later Solly realized that the hull was stable and working properly. «I just felt it»," he recalls.
From time to time, ideas come to Solly when he is «not on the water»: while he takes the children to kindergarten or walking the dachshund. For example, he figured out what to call the company while he was eating Goldfish crackers at the cinema in the early 90s.
This weekend*, the pilot model Ocean 50 will make its debut at a boat show in Oslo with a very high price tag. In the coming months, the boat will be customised, overwinter at Solly's and delivered to the new owner in spring.
prototype required a large investment: about 1.9 million U.S. dollars and thousands of man-hours for development and production, and 18 months of
And what about the emotional «investment?»Is it hard to give your brainchild to a new owner?
No, none of the boats I made are personally attached to me," Solly says and adds:
- I'm saving them for my kayak. I didn't build it, I bought it.
*" Original: Wall Street Journal article 7.09.2012