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An Interview with Carol Williamson

What is your background?

Before I started my firm in 1984, I headed the interiors department for an architectural firm in Portland. I set out to create an independent interior design office that worked closely with architectural firms.

Initially, I worked strictly in commercial design. My most notable project in that area was the Nike World headquarters’ north campus. Over time, clients asked us to work on their residences, and from there it led to the design of their yachts. I have worked on interiors for several yachts that Christensen built—Remember When, Primadonna, Marathon, to name a few—and the refit of the first Carpe Diem, a 150-foot Trinity, among others.

What is unique about this yacht?

The most unique aspect of this build is how involved the owner was in every detail. Design is a true passion of his. We worked very closely on the development of the overall concept. One of my favorite details is the owners’ breathtaking collection of vintage black-and-white photography. It is the perfect complement to the dark Makassar walls and the iridescent materials we utilized throughout.

What was the inspiration for the design?

The owners’ love of Parisian Art Deco design.

The owner also requested a modern interior with clean lines, complemented by a dark, rich and dramatic wood. We had many discussions about the style of the furniture. It needed to be modern and elegant to complement the vintage furniture and lighting pieces that were collected.

What are the major design components?

The Makassar wood veneer was the springboard for the design direction. At the beginning of the design phase, the owner sent us a photo that inspired him, which featured this unique wood. It gave us direction. We experimented with veneers and various stains to get the color and effect we were looking for. We created this very rich shell by utilizing ebonized cherry to complement the Makassar panels, pale cream-colored ceilings, light wool carpets in cream or pale platinum grays for contrast, white onyx floors for the entries and iridescent upholstery materials for the custom-built seating. We incorporated Parisian and Belgian Art Deco design, which has a very streamlined and modern look and vintage pieces that the owner found, which we re-upholstered to match.

How did you make it happen?

My design team and I went through several iterations to develop design consistency without it becoming too thematic. We used fabrics with a subtle reflective quality (silk, velvet, wool and opalescent leathers) to create a great play of light and dark. We worked on all of the railing designs, the gates and elliptical caps to continue the Art Deco detailing outdoors. We used other design elements found inside, like the tufted outdoor leather on the aft-deck bar, which mirrors the tufted sateen walls in the owners’ stateroom. The owner really wanted cohesiveness between interior and exterior design. The dining chairs on the aft deck are vintage Probber chairs the owner saw in a design magazine. Initially we were intending to use them for the interior, but as the design evolved, they were transformed and re-created for use outdoors.