Cover The 1,582 sq ft owner’s cabin in this Sanlorenzo yacht is spread out across three levels, and features a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces

Designed by Studio Liaigre recently for its Asia-based owners, this Sanlorenzo yacht combines Asian and French influences—Guillaume Rolland shares more on its concept and how he crafts luxurious and emotive spaces for discerning yacht owners worldwide

The pinnacle of luxury—that’s what superyachts mean to many of us. They represent not only the ultimate in glamour and privacy, but also offer unbridled freedom. For the small proportion of billionaires who can afford them, choosing the right vessel is only the first step; it’s followed by the arduous task of crafting a sanctuary at sea. Yachts are extremely personal spaces, and designing their interior requires incredible precision and detail—much more than what is expected in a home on land.

“Liaigre is known for delivering a perfect layout: harmonious in terms of flow, proportion and balance,” says Guillaume Rolland, principal and head of yacht design at Studio Liaigre. “Much of our work is spent building this backbone, which you can’t see in pictures. For us, it is all about making the layout work, imagining every single gesture of daily life and then translating that into the design.”

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Having worked at Liaigre for over two decades, Rolland knows the brand’s ethos inside and out. A chance encounter with founder Christian Liaigre’s work in a magazine inspired him to apply for a job, and he began his journey with the French brand in 2002. He eventually rose to studio manager, overseeing the totality of the design studio’s output; his current role as the head of yacht design represents the expansion of the brand as well as his own repertoire.

Studio Liaigre’s foray into crafting yacht interiors happened naturally, with many of its high-net-worth clientele wanting to have their spaces—whether it’s a sprawling country villa or their private jets and yachts—benefit from the French brand’s minimalist approach. Here, he shares more about the 

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1. Design

While its pared-back aesthetic is recognisable, the studio’s real impact is addressing how a space makes one feel. “For us, experience and emotion trump visual impact. It’s important to get the sequences, contrasts and perspective as you walk through a space right,” stresses Rolland.

In the past six years, Rolland has focused on growing Liaigre’s reach in the yachting world. “The world of the sea has a strong link to voyage and discovery, which aligns with the studio’s philosophy,” he notes. He considers boats to be “the last spaces of freedom” and says that being out at sea “teaches you to be humble”.

His observations come from his personal passion for the ocean, nurtured from a young age. A weeklong sailing course he took while on holiday with his grandmother led to a lifelong love affair with the sea and sailing.

“Designing a vessel’s interiors is to think of architecture in movement,” says Rolland. In every vessel, the organisation of spaces is quite tight and follows a longitudinal flow. Planning involves “syncing the interiors to the worst-case scenario of complete movement”, says Rolland.

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2. Keep it curvy

Designers must opt for soft-edged furniture one can easily grab in the event of constant swaying, as well as equip flat surfaces with feeder rails or lift extensions to catch the sliding of books and paraphernalia. Practicalities aside, a yacht must also be a discerning owner’s vision of comfort and indulgence.

One of Studio Liaigre’s latest projects was to design a Sanlorenzo SL44, a 44.5m superyacht made from aluminium by the Italian shipyard. The project came with a particular brief from its Asian owners to meld Asian styles with a French touch. The first step, as in any Liaigre project, was to be extremely efficient in crafting the layout. “We needed to create dynamism in these elongated spaces and make a connection to the environment.” 

This yacht was conceived as a “floating apartment”, a unique concept for a vessel of its size. Its rounded edges make for a cocooning environment, and Studio Liaigre embraced the vessel’s curves in unexpected ways. A key decision was to perpetuate the fluidity of the spaces by playing with partitions that created structure but not restrictions.

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3. Have the right materials

In terms of decoration, Studio Liaigre intentionally limited the materials to rattan, wood, natural stone and leather. The chosen colour palette embodies warmth—juxtaposing light and dark wood species to create contrast and accenting the space with Prussian blue and garnet leather, as well as black and celadon details. Lighter hues of white and ecru dominate the outdoor and daytime spaces.

Studio Liaigre blended Asian and French cultural influences in the yacht in a subtle, seamless manner. “The doors are mostly rounded and narrow, with arches that have an intentional link to Chinese architecture. We also put terrariums that reference the bonsai practice,” Rolland shares. The designers mixed varnished eucalyptus and light elm wood, recapturing the tradition of 18th-century woodwork. The wood panelling also harks back to conventional French craftsmanship.

For Rolland, whatever the owner’s vision, it all boils down to the fact that architecture is the most important shell that protects man from the elements. This is especially true at sea. “You can’t live in a concept, you only live in a space,” he stresses. That is why with every project, they do not ever lose sight of what’s important: creating a space built around humans and how they want to live, and of course, never forgetting to help them immerse themselves in the great outdoors.

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