When is a boat not a boat?


Made.com co-founder Chloe Macintosh ruminates on the art world’s current fascination with the nautical world

Wally Boats

A few nights ago, I went to the Beauchamp Club to hear Luca Bassani, the designer and founder of the boat company Wally Boats, talk about his adventure.

The Beauchamp is a unique little members’ club with a twist on Parisian bohemian literature salons from the late 17th century. Located discreetly in a recessed corner and without a door number or a plate, it feels like the right place to discuss intimately what it feels like to drive the fastest motor yacht in the world.

Luca Bassani, the designer and founder of the boat company Wally Boats

Luca started designing boats in 1991 without any formal naval architectural background, but a passion for sailing and the desire to make sailing the ultimate experience, marrying comfort, aesthetic and a very competitive edge.

He designed and custom built the first one and was quickly inundated with requests from others wanting similar yachts. Wally is now recognised as a world leader in yachting innovation, combining the latest technology with contemporary design. Wally has also changed the entire concept of cruising yachts and created groundbreaking sailing and power boats which have become reference points in yachting and in the design world. Under Luca’s guidance, Wally continues to innovate and is the only two time winner of the Compasso d’Oro, the world’s most important prize for the industrial design.

Off to the Frieze the next morning and a less agreeable surprise in the form of… a boat.

Boat at Frieze Art Fair 2011

Christian Jankowski, The Finest Art on Water, Frieze Art Fair 2011. Photo courtesy of Linda Nylind/ Frieze

I didn’t understand what a full-size motor yacht was doing there. It was a very nice boat, quite old fashioned looking and beautifully made. But there was nothing special about it from an art or design viewpoint. And the idea that someone was trying to sell a yacht just because it had the suited audience conveniently gathered didn’t resonate well with what the Frieze stands for.

The irony is that the boat, if it is declared to be “art”, which is what the owner is going for, will be sold for more money, 650,000 euros instead of 500,000 euros, if it is just, a boat..

In the context of this event and with the creativity on display, I couldn’t help thinking that a Wally would have been more suited; surprising, sculptural and attracting attention for the right reasons.

Giant Hermit Crab

Pierre Huyghe, Recollection, for Frieze Projects 2011. Photo by Polly Braden

The highlight of my ballade at Frieze was however presented by another sea creature, this time in the form of the truly mesmerizing Giant Hermit Crab who has made his home in a replica of Brancussi’s Sleeping Muse. The organiser told me me that the whole process was a bit stressful in the build up to the fair opening, as the creature didn’t really want to change house. The crab finally gave in when it realised that it got a free VIP ticket to London’s Frieze, with a house in Regent’s Park already decorated and was the centre of the Pierre Huyghe’s live ecosystem installation which was totally aligned with his ethos.

Chloe Macintosh is the creative director for online furniture retailer made.com as well as a founder of the business. Having gained a degree in architecture she worked for Foster and Partners for many years before joining Brent Hoberman and launching mydeco.com. Chloe’s passion and knowledge for design was honed at an early age when she visited antiques and flea markets across France to source pieces for her mother’s shop in the Parisian market, Les Puces. She spends most of her free time researching and gaining inspiration through the interiors and design network.