Aesthetic and ergonomic in boat design

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Sailcy, Oct 27, 2016.

  1. tom28571
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    My first thought when reading the OP question was that its a pretty negative assumption. There are plenty of boats in which the designer made some serious considerations of aesthetic as well as ergonomic aspects. The second thought was, if an english major saw his addition of "al" to both terms, they might be offended. The point being that while both terms are understood and are acceptable, they might still offend a purist.

    In personal preference, I would agree that there are many really ugly boats with poor ergonomics, and performance, being built but boat buyers obviously often have other aspects which influence their purchases and/or pocketbooks. Many look more like Nike running shoes than boats and need a degree of athletic skill to venture on the foredeck for mooring or anchoring. Fortunately the last decade has seen a resurgence of more boats that have a classic, shall I say, real boat look with practical interiors and handling access.
     
  2. Sailcy
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    Sailcy Junior Member

    Starting this post my intention was not to express personal frustrations, nor to cover the whole industry with negative assumptions, but rather share some experience and highlight some ideas.
    Definitely there still plenty of nice boats and people who spend their time and effort creating them.
    Also, I have no intention at all to blame any person for their creation even if it completely out of my taste. I strongly believe there should be freedom to create and to express ones.
    But I see a completely different approach if the creator is in a position to sell their work to the general public.
     
  3. Sailcy
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    Sailcy Junior Member

    There is a widely circulated opinion that for the whole amount of the plans sold just a tiny percentage boats actually built.
    It's hard to imagine a similar situation anywhere else. People don't buy dozens of projects to build just one house. So the common sense tells that something is wrong. And I think it's "misrepresentation".
    I remember I got quite a collection of "plans" before I've built my first boat. Actually, many of them should be called some kind of "for educational purposes only"
     
  4. Kailani
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    Kailani Senior Member

    I don't think anything is "wrong". Building a boat is difficult. Esp. for anyone who hasn't built many before. And figuring out what you want is difficult. It is an education needed before starting anything. Hard to imagine a similar situation? I disagree. Take houses, which are much more tolerant***. There are tons of drawings for houses never built esp when the site is tricky like hanging off the side of a hill or it's something remarkable.
    *** The tradeoffs aren't as complex. It's easier to add an addition if it's not right the first time. I have a few thousand dollars of work into drawings for a house that will probably not be built without starting again. I needed to invest that to figure out I couldn't bring what I wanted within my budget and have it still worth all the effort and worthwhile for the lot. And then for the tiny number of self-built houses, a house isn't weight sensitive like a boat. Most have skilled trades at least do electrical, plumbing, foundation, etc. There are a series of required inspections as a safety net. And, even being much more tolerant of errors and lack of experience, there tons of plans drawn for houses that never get built.
     
  5. mydauphin
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    mydauphin Senior Member

    Houses and boats unless custom made for you are compromises. They get changed over time to fit their needs. Boats designers try to design everything for client and unless your rich or do it yourself, you get stuck with their idea of a bathroom or bedroom. When I got my used boat first thing I did was cut away some walls, reduced number of bedrooms, made bigger bathroom. No more hallways, more open plan. Many times you have modern hull with a very old looking inside as far as design.
     
  6. jorgepease
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    jorgepease Senior Member

    This is my opinion too!
     
  7. smjmitchell
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    smjmitchell Junior Member

    Interesting question.

    In terms of aesthetics:
    In any field of design there is a few who master the form of the product (in this case the boat). The difference between a stunning, seductive product and an average or even homely design is often subtle and those who know how to produce great designs have spent many, many years studying the form and develop a sixth sense of what is right and wrong. Style is, I think, timeless (think Riva). I believe most people can appreciate a truly well designed product that is easy on the eye (like a beautiful woman) even if it is not their style. Why are there so many boats that lack a well proportioned and refined look ? Most designers focus on the functional requirements and ignore or compromise on the aesthetics ..... but in reality the vast majority of designers simply lack the refinement of aesthetic skills and a finely tuned sense of proportion or form to produce a product that makes people salivate. The other factor is that most designers do not have the lofting skills to define and refine a truly nice shape that is buildable. Even if you have the best hull design software you are not going to produce aesthetically pleasing designs unless you know how to tweak the shape so it looks right. However the hull is just the start ... it is the details that attach to it that also exude style and a pleasant aesthetic. The best designers have also learned to get the balance right between style and performance, handling and stability. We have all seen boats designed with flair that were completely impractical or had major functional issues. The aesthetic must be part of a complete package that performs and handles as well as it looks. The final issue is that great design takes time and perseverance and few clients who commission designs are willing or able to pay the substantial premium for good design (same goes for say those contracting an architect to design a building).

    Ergonomics:
    This is more of a science than many understand. Like aesthetics, good ergonomics are only achieved by investing a lot of effort in the design phase. Many iterations of the design maybe required on paper to refine the ergonomics. Mock-ups will also be required for testing. This all costs money and at the end of the day boat design is a cut throat business with no fat margins to allow for these sorts of studies. Bottom line is that you get what you pay for .....
     
  8. Sailcy
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    Sailcy Junior Member

    Yes Smjmitchell my thoughts almost exactly reflect your post.
    Being a boat designer is not an easy task. One should combine a lot of skills in one instance, including marketing and the expectations to get what you paid for is not always correct. Often the plan prices, based on how the designer managed to promote himself. As I can see many of the designers are passionate about what they doing, so the explanation that time is money also not fit perfectly in the particular field.
     
  9. tom28571
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    Interesting discussion but I think a house is not a good analogy to boats. Most of us have lived in a house all our lives and have experienced the bad a good aspects. Therefore our perceptions are based on personal experience while most new buyers or beginner "designers" of boats have little or no such experience.

    Cars would be a more appropriate analogy although very few would ever try to design or build their own. There may be some hidden wisdom in that last conclusion with experience having taught the novice that there is much complexity under the skin. Many would be designers on forums are not willing to put in the work.

    smjmitchell and others have pointed out some of the issues. Still, the most popular small power cruiser sold in the US has a V berth suitable only for children and the helmsman of average height cannot stand up at the wheel.
     
  10. fcfc
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    fcfc Senior Member

    For large yacht, there are regulations (based on ergonomics) for crew cabin.
    Basically, minimal headroom 203cm (6'8"), minimal surface 4.5m² (48 sqft), bunk size at least 198cm*80cm (6'6" * 2'8"). And for only 2 people.

    Try to squeeze this as owner cabin this in smaller boats. And of course keeping a aesthetic line...:p:p
     
  11. Sailcy
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    Sailcy Junior Member

    The house building analogy could actually be quite helpful. An average DIY builder considers that boat designer to be as an architect who know the rules by definition. In other words boat designers often confused with NA. Again, I fully appreciate honest designers for their effort, but what I'm trying to say that customer expectations are often confused by misrepresentation.
     
  12. mydauphin
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    mydauphin Senior Member

    Depending on boat... they are a lot like houses, the liveaboard. Some are like airplanes, the very fast speedboat. Some are like buildings, the very large yacht with all its infrastructure. Some are like bridges, they have to hold a lot of weight, and the function is more import than form. Some are like art, fragile if dropped. Some have to cross oceans, others have to be able to sail into water that you can wade across.

    So it is very to hard to group them together. All require compromises, structures, and systems to do their job. So they are house, cars, and planes all in one, multi-function and they have to be pretty too.
     
  13. Sailcy
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    Sailcy Junior Member

    So it is very to hard to group them together. All require compromises, structures, and systems to do their job. So they are house, cars, and planes all in one, multi-function and they have to be pretty too.

    Exactly! And this is probably more comprehensive conclusion that one person (the designer) unable to be so multiskilled as multifunctional the vessel must to be. And an important point is imo that just a design not a comprehensive construction project, the customer should keep in mind buying the plans that almost everything is Excluded!
     
  14. tom28571
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    tom28571 Senior Member

    Having designed and built both boats and houses, I have to disagree that there is much parallel between them other than they both need to meet their objectives and practical as well as legal requirements to be successful. Same thing can be said of any functional object.

    Disagreements are normal and and are expected. Frank Lloyd Wright is considered a master architect but if he designed a boat with the same diligence he applied to buildings, many would be failures and dangerous vessels.
     

  15. Sailcy
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    Sailcy Junior Member

    We have a movie rating/classification, hotel rating even Ebay rating! Why not to have boat design rating?)))
     
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