By: Markus Beal
I’ve always wondered if people like Winston Churchill and Steve Jobs had guys with little notebooks whose sole job it was to follow them about and record anything pithy or brilliant that came out of their mouths; This of course so their wisdom could be held in history books for all to remember them by. But early in my career, my heroes were aviation figures and on one lucky occasion, I was the guy with the little notebook handy when one of our first (and then quite well known) aviation designers, the late Howard Timlin, made an important distinction. He said…
…“being a good designer requires little more than a keen eye for form, function and aesthetics…being a successful one requires that same same level of talent for listening.”
His point of course was that all the talent in the world can’t make you a successful designer unless you also possess the far rarer talent of discovering and extracting your customer’s vision. The wisdom of Mr. Timlins’s words no doubt resonate with all professional designers but unfortunately, the later skillset requires more than simply reading and understanding a design brief. It’s an innate talent for going beyond words and truly capturing your customer’s vision.
The story of Winch Design is one really notable example of what can happen if you possess both skillsets and practice them at a high level - consistently.
After holding an apprentice position with former yacht design legend Jon Bannenberg, Mr. Winch was ready to give it a go independently. So in 1986 Winch and his wife Jane, formally hung out their shingle as Andrew Winch Designs. The firm’s first project: a 36-foot Swan sailboat. As humble as that was and despite the inevitability of challenge along the way, both the Winch name and its reputation haven’t stopped growing since. In 2011, the firm employed a staff of 45 and today, that number has risen to 90 with multiple divisions ranging (in transport) from Yachts to Aircrafts – along with a separate division for shore-based projects as well. Having re- branded a year ago to simply Winch Design, the firm is indeed a success story but not simply in having arrived at the top of their game and collecting dozens of international awards, but managing to stay there while crossing into new areas. As impressive as the success itself, it’s the longevity and expansion that seems to set Winch apart from many others.
As a kid, back before there were people and firms like Winch who designed huge motor-yachts and airborne homes, I admired really cool architects like Gehry, Meier and Frank Lloyd Wright. These were guys that had it goin’ on back in the day, designers that developed and maintained their own unique style and found an audience of clients with whom it resonated. In short, if you fancied yourself as a designer (or even merely a self-appointed arbiter of good design) these were the coolest people on the planet and with the coolest jobs on the planet. And the works they completed, each a standing monument to the passion of individual thought and creativity.
But as it turned out of course, there really are people who design 180 meter mega-yachts and airborne Boeings with bedrooms, showers and private lounges. Not to take anything away from my pals Gehry and Meir, but it’s certainly fair to suggest that the Mr. Winch and his firm have done for transportable environments, what these iconic architects did for buildings. And if there’s any doubt, let’s examine for a minute, a few of Winch Design’s recent to current projects, in no particular order…
437 ft. Motor Yacht Al Mirqab, launched 2011; M/Y Dilbar, a 511.8 ft. Lurssen built motor yacht launched in 2016; M/Y Sea Owl, a 62 meter Feadship delivered also in 2016; Project Mayfair, a London inspired Boing Business Jet Interior series; a recently delivered 19 passenger BBJ outfitted with guest bedroom, lounges & bar; a 90sqm St James’s apartment in London …just to name a few.
And as if their past and current project roster weren’t enough, the Winch firm produces all its work from an old re-purposed fire-house and several additional buildings on the banks of the Thames just outside London.
Expansive windows and a curved staircase drink in views of the riverfront. Cool to be sure and a quite inspiring place to exert one’s creativity.
But mere success and cool apparently isn’t where it stops for Winch Design these days. Winch was kind enough to unveil a new project that goes beyond merely cool and into the world of fantastical; a realm of unencumbered vision and airborne imagination.
Project HALO can only be defined as a Private Residence in the sky. HALO is a helium lift residential airship with a living area the size of four football pitches. While almost beyond imagination, HALO is a very serious and real project for Winch, and it represents a total paradigm shift in VVIP aviation.
The unimaginable now becomes reality. The HALO concept will enable the owner to see the world differently, go where no one else can and enjoy the truly incredulous benefits it offers. While a project of this magnitude could be written off as fanciful, a 266 ft-long prototype of the Aeroscraft first flew in 2013 and has received certification from the FAA. The name HALO refers to the two-level, ring-shaped living area within which there will be 43,000 square feet (yes 43,000) of usable space, surrounding a cargo bay spacious enough to hold a fleet of cars, a superyacht or a personal submarine.
HALO represents the ultimate private residence ever, but is also deemed practical for a number of reasons. Firstly, the airship flies below 12,000 feet so is not pressurized, enabling residents to enjoy spectacular views from open air viewing decks and the ability to travel almost anywhere in the world - over cities, mountains and to uncharted territories. Secondly, the amount of living space is unimaginable, over twenty bedroom suites, work and conference spaces, spa, cinema, nightclub as well as the cargo deck ensuring all the accoutrements of any VVIP lifestyle can be carried with, including yachts, cars and motorbikes. Finally, the Aeroscraft has vertical take - off and landing capacity, has a range of over 6000 miles, cruises at 130 mph and is very fuel efficient.
The structure and interior design are also “other-worldly” and include honeycomb colored glass for the windows and floors, carbon fiber furnishings, and lightweight composites for the frame and outer skin of the Aeroscraft.
Jim Dixon , Head of Aviation at Winch Design, commented, “Halo represents the way we will live and travel in the not- too - distant future. It is an extraordinary and exciting project that will appeal to our clients.” Needless to say, HALO is incredibly technically advanced, with inflatable landing pads allowing it to land and remain stable on any terrain including water, creating the ultimate private island.
Transparent floor sections like those used on the viewing platform at The Grand Canyon, a system of motorized cables to lower vehicles from the cargo bay and a patent - pending ballast system which uses a series of internal compressed helium envelopes to make the craft heavier than air for grounding and lighter than air for flight have all been created for this new concept. Winch Design is one of the few design companies globally who could even contemplate the creation of such an awe-inspiring project. A team of over seventy people has worked on a number of international projects which have pushed the boundaries, but perhaps none more so than HALO. Mr. Dixon concludes; “HALO is a ground-breaking project and will provide a completely new perspective on the world.”
Other more near-term to current projects for Winch include M/Y CLOUD 9, delivered in May 2017, a spectacular custom-built 74-meter motor yacht with a powerful combination of engineering expertise and cutting-edge design, resulting out of a close collaboration between CRN, Zuccon International Project and Winch Design.
The design vision behind CLOUD 9 demonstrates an optimized balance between interior and exterior spaces, with impressive volume and a high degree of comfort, along with a free-flowing layout for a relaxed indoor - outdoor living environment. Exceptional open -air areas, such as the private deck forward of the owner’s suite and the large beach club with extended platform at sea level, were conceived to offer maximum scope for both al fresco enjoyment and entertaining, as specified by the experienced owner.
Areti, delivered in July 2017 was designed inside and out by Winch Design. Her interior has a traditional feel with an American classic twist. The 74m Lürssen Aurora also delivered in 2017 is a considerably more voluminous yacht than others of its size. Winch Design was responsible for both her exterior and interior design. New Secret, the 74m yacht was delivered in 2017 with Winch Design responsible for the yacht’s modern and sophisticated interior.
The latest from Winch’s expanding aviation portfolio, is a Boeing BBJ, recently delivered to its owner - a youthful figure in international business and a previously experienced owner of VVIP aircraft.The new BBJ’s 19 - passenger interior is fitted with Galley, Cabin Crew facilities and a Guest Bathroom, all neatly integrated in the forward area, concealed behind sliding doors precision - engineered within the beautiful peacock - themed metalized artwork paneling which sweeps guests into the Main Lounge area. Having a chance to unwind and escape from the pressures of business (at least temporarily) was paramount for this owner so having a drink at the bar or one of two lounges while enjoying the full-spectrum, audio-synced lighting scene were extremely important in the design and outfitting of this unique VVIP Boeing.
So will there be a HALO over the Thames? As far-flung as it may seem, it’s probably a good bet and the very first one may well be tethered to an old firehouse in Barnes, awaiting its design team to board for a day trip gliding above the East Midlands.
The ever-evolving Winch Design story is one of the best contemporary examples of sustained disciplines working in harmony to successfully capture the dreams of its clients…again and again.
Bar / Lounge, Boeing Business Jet
HALO over Monaco Yacht Harbour
M/Y Areti - Areti Beach Club
Viewable on Desktop only
HALO in hover mode over Monte Carlo's yacht harbour
M/Y Areti - "Beach Club"