hydrographic map-inspired patterns on the ceiling and rug in a yacht's salon
Hydrographic maps inspired the patterns on the salon’s ceiling fabric and rug, both custom, as are the tables and seating.

Jouin Manku’s Debut Super Yacht Sets Sail

2023 Best of Year Winner for Yacht

Designer Patrick Jouin and architect Sanjit Manku both have sharp early memories linked to boats. For Interior Design Hall of Fame member Jouin, one of his grandfathers was a welder at the Saint-Nazaire shipyard in western France and worked on the construction of the legendary luxury liner, Le Normandie, in the 1930’s. As for Manku, in his early 20’s, he built a skiff so large that he had trouble storing it. “My dad had to cut it in half to get it from the backyard to the front,” he remembers. “It didn’t end well.”

Since founding their Paris-based firm, Jouin Manku, in 2006, the co-CEOs and copartners have completed numerous restaurants for Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse, six boutiques for Van Cleef & Arpels, a spectacular residence in Kuala Lumpur, and a multitude of hotels. Yet, they had never been asked to work on the interior of a private yacht before. “We couldn’t understand why,” Jouin states. “We were so sure we were made to design one.”

Jouin Manku Designs the Interior of a Private Yacht

the main deck of super yacht Kenshō
On the main deck of Kenshō, a 10,000-square-foot private vessel with architecture by Azure Yacht Design and Archineers.Berlin and interiors by Jouin Manku, a Torsa table by Stéphane de Winter and a custom sofa stand on teak planks.

When the call finally came, it was well worth the wait. Built in the Admiral shipyard in Italy’s Marina di Carrara with sleek mint-green exteriors conceived in tandem by Azure Yacht Design and German architecture firm Archineers. Berlin, Kenshō, as the yacht is named, measures 246 feet in length and can accommodate up to 12 guests and a crew of 23. Its owner—a self-made European businessman—sounds both visionary and quite particular. Prior to commissioning the vessel, he’d checked out numerous other boats armed with a laser measure and noted down the exact dimensions of rooms he liked. He was also looking to create something different. “He’s always wondering whether things could be done better,” Manku notes.

The client insisted on having ceilings just under 9 feet and shunned the need for walkways on both sides of each deck. “He said, ‘People like symmetry, but having two walkways eats up valuable space,’” Manku continues. Most importantly, he questioned the common assumption that the navigation bridge has to be located at the front of the uppermost deck. Why should the crew, rather than guests, get the best view? Instead, a 915-square-foot sitting room was placed up there, with the wheelhouse tucked on the floor below.

The Kenshō Yacht Interiors Are Designed for a Peaceful Journey

an aerial view of Kenshō's four decks
The yacht’s four decks.

Jouin Manku had distinct ideas of the atmosphere the team was looking to conjure. “Mega yachts are glamorous and powerful. At the same time, what intrigued us was, Could they still be intimate?” Manku asks. “Could they be something peaceful?”— indeed a challenge with a project that has four levels (plus one for staff) and six bedrooms. He and Jouin were helped by their client’s request to integrate Asian influences (Kenshō is the Japanese term for enlightenment). They adopted a soft color palette and favored the use of wood (specifically teak), silk, and leather. The latter lines the walls of corridors, where it has been sculpted by British artist Helen Amy Murray. The designers also opted for a more Asian approach to the lighting, installing backlit walls and ceilings. “The idea is that the light kind of hugs and surrounds you,” Jouin says.

Far East Motifs Include Silk Printed Patterns

Most striking are the motifs drawn from the Far East: the guest cabin bedheads upholstered in a silk printed with a gingko pattern, the custom Chinoiserie-style wallpaper in the main dressing room featuring monkeys and flying cranes, and the doors into the main bedroom, which are decorated with an abstract landscape evocative of clouds and mountains. Created from patinated brass by French metalworker Steaven Richard, it recalls the work of mythical Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai. Elsewhere, inspirations are nautical. The patterns of the rugs and ceilingscapes are drawn from hydrographic maps, and jellyfish and sailboats are among the subjects painted by Axel Samson onto the wood paneling the four powder rooms.

Modularity was also worked into Jouin Manku’s scheme. Asymmetric nightstands were devised to look equally at place on either side of a double bed or grouped together between two twin berths. Several pieces of furniture were fixed onto rails, which allow their component elements to be either joined or separated. A prime example is the expansive two-piece table in the dining room, which presented the team with a particular challenge. For much of the time, it could potentially be something of a dead space. “You only eat there on a bad day,” Manku says. “Otherwise, you’re out on a deck.” To enliven it, he and Jouin installed floor-to-ceiling glass cabinets filled with a collection of the owners’ nautical-themed curios.

A Marble Tub Makes for Ultimate Luxury

Finding the right marble for the tub in the main bathroom proved one of the most complicated tasks. Jouin and Manku traveled to stone yards around the world before realizing the solution was practically under their noses. The Admiral shipyard is located close to the famous Carrara quarries, where they came across two slabs with “calligraphy-like” veins and had them sculpted into an exquisitely rounded tub. “We created its curves not just for the eye, but, first and foremost, for the hand,” Jouin says. “The touch of the marble really is something else.” Call the experience enlightening.

Inside the Kenshō Yacht

an aerial view of super yacht Kenshō
The yacht is 246 feet.
Silk carpet covering the main staircase in the Kenshō yacht
Silk carpet covering the main staircase.
a custom lamp glows behind ocean views in this yacht
The salon’s custom lamp by Jouin Manku.
hydrographic map-inspired patterns on the ceiling and rug in a yacht's salon
Hydrographic maps inspired the patterns on the salon’s ceiling fabric and rug, both custom, as are the tables and seating.
inside the entrance to the main suite in this mega yacht
A Sumo chair and a custom alabaster lamp sit be­tween the main suite’s bedroom, bathroom, and sitting room.
the main doors to the bedroom in this yacht are finished in a cloud-like mural
Atelier Steaven Richard finished the brass doors to the main bedroom with acids and chemicals.
a couch and accent chairs form a seating area inside this yacht suite's sitting room
The doors to the suite sitting room have a similar treatment.
leather paneling in Kenshō, a mega yacht
Leather paneling sculpted by Helen Amy Murray.
a hand painted jungle scene on wardrobe doors
Custom hand-painted wallpaper on the main bedroom’s wardrobe doors.
a powder room with jellyfish painted on the wall
Perlato Olympo marble, teak, and jellyfish painted by Axel Samson in a powder room.
a marble tub inside a bathroom of a luxury yacht
Two slabs of Carrara marble were sculpted into the main bathroom’s tub.
an onyx bathroom vanity
LEDs and onyx in a guest bathroom.
inside a powder room of a yacht with flamingos painted on the walls
Another powder room.
white chairs surround a table in front of a built in shelf in the living room of a yacht
Patrick Jouin–designed furniture for the living room’s games table.
gingko-patterned silk on the wall of a guest bedroom
Gingko-patterned silk on a guest bedroom’s walls.
a round of silk lays atop the sitting room doors
A round of custom silk on the sitting room’s teak doors.
sitting room doors have a cloud-like mural and bronze hardware
Bronze hardware for sitting-room doors.
a crystal chandelier hangs above a 10-foot-long dining table
Above the pair of 10-foot-long dining-room tables, leatherlike Alcantara surrounds the custom chandelier made from cast Bohemian crystal.
a cabinet of nautical trinkets in the dining room of a yacht
The dining room’s cabinet of curiosities.
a coral reproduction in resin in the hallway of a luxury yacht
A corridor’s coral reproduction in resin.
the lower deck of a luxury yacht, Kenshō, featuring a swimming pool
The lower deck features a swimming pool.
Jouin Manku: bénédicte bonnefoi; dimitri malko; julien lizé; fanny peurou; axel de clermont tonnerre; vincent dechelette; bruno pimpanini; aurélien gauducheau; néhemy goguely
azure yacht design: yacht exterior
archineers.berlin: design, engineering consultant
trappmann consulting slu: interior design consultant
atelier 27; ébénisterie générale; tisg: custom furniture workshops
voyons voir: lighting designer
aude planterose: art consultant
admiral (italian sea group): shipyard
stuart king architecture: owner technical representative, surveyor
manutti: table (main deck)
sunbrella: sofa fabric, carpet (stair)
pedrali: games chairs (living room)
starset: games table
pierre frey: sofa, chair fabric (salon, sitting room)
Holly Hunt: chair (main suite)
delisle: custom lamp
de Gournay: custom wallpaper (main bedroom)
crystal caviar: custom chandelier (dining room)
pilot’ ag: custom table
galerie diurne: custom carpet
preciosa: custom lighting
miscimasci: custom silk

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