PROFILE: Yacht interiors engineering studio SDSI

NOORDWIJKERHOUT – The idea came to Erik van Dongen in the 1990s when he worked at Hoek Design. “I saw a need to support design bureaus and yards with drawing work for superyacht interiors,” he says.

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He founded SDSI and quickly reaped 2 Feadship design commissions _ a 60m and a 62m yacht. By now, his studio’s portfolio comprises a dozen large motor yachts and 4 super sailing yachts

SDSI _ it stands for Support Design Styling and Illustrations _ is a yacht interior engineering studio. It works with interior designers, shipyards, carpenters, naval architects, brokers and owners of sailing and motor yachts of 40 to 100m. New builds and refits.

Typically, the studio engineers design details for carpenters, offers solutions for edgy designs and features, does weight calculations, writes technical overviews and risk analysis reports and makes design visuals and proposals. Need anything else?

“We are the link between designer and production,” says SDSI Director Tomas Dunnebier. “We digitally ‘translate’ sketches into precise assembly drawings. These translate the initial design into detailed, elevated drawings of a yacht interior. These drawings combine design with constructional elements such as wiring, piping, air-conditioning, lightning and other electrical components.”

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SDSI engineers make all necessary adjustments and provide detailed drawings after checking all shipbuilding disciplines. The final form is digitally recorded and dimensioned in consultation with the production company.

The need for engineering yacht interiors is driven by the fact that yachts are getting larger and endlessly more complex. A 6-deck superyacht can have as many as 100 spaces _ salons, bedrooms, bars, hallways, corridors, dining areas, crew quarters, a beach club, tender garages, galleys, storage and technical spaces. Architects and designers work with every stricter, ever tighter limits and angles.

Dunnebier: “In engineering an interior, we zoom in. We start with, ‘Where are the interior walls?’ We then look at finishing and the thickness of materials. We also pay attention to classification rules in, say, fire safety and look at sprinkler systems, escape routes etc. We make sure everything is to code and installed right.”

Large, complex projects can lead to weekly meetings with various partners. To speed up matters, SDSI can make standard production drawings. “Depending on the yard, crew quarters can be of a standard format, “says Dunnebier. “We are entering those standard formats in Top Solid Wood (TSW) software, a 3D engineering program.

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3D technology has made fast inroads in yacht design. SDSI staffers get inhouse 3D software training, ideally _ if it can be arranged _ with employees of partners. “Everybody used to work with Autocad,”says Dunnebier. “Today, it is 3D and it is more complex.” It forces SDSI to step up communication with its partners to ensure both sides can work with each other’s files. “That is a challenge,” says Dunnebier. “Making sure you and your partners work with the right, most up-to-date data.”

SDSI uses Project Information Management software to increase efficiency, connect teams, mitigate risk and retain a 360-degree view of its operations. SDSI projects can span years generating data through meetings, questions, remarks, memo’s etc. All that must be retained. “We hold on to data, even of projects that have long been completed. Our partners like to make use of it. The PIM-system saves time and monitors quality.”