Top Yacht Design – Kenshō

Delivered to her owner in July, this 75m Admiral penned by Azure Yacht Design and with interiors by the Studio Jouin Manku, is a future-forward milestone yacht that revolutionises the very idea of yacht design.

She may not have been on show at Monaco but she was still one of the queens of that particular event as she rode at anchor in the bay off Port Hercule. Kenshō, the 75m Admiral launched earlier this year by The Italian Sea Group, is much more than just an innovative yacht. She’s a genuinely radical wake-up call for the yachting and yacht design worlds: a very tangible demonstration that change is possible when both the desire and imagination are there to bring it about.

Having viewed dozens of vessels as he searched for his perfect yacht, Kenshō’s Owner, who already had a 60m, realised that there was nothing out there that was a genuine break from the rather strict and stuffy superyacht conventions. He knew he wanted something that redefined the idea of yachting itself. So, to turn his ideas into reality, he called in a team that combined unparalleled experience with unfettered creativity.

In addition to a yard he knew had the skill and passion to give him what he wanted. While Kenshō had quite a lengthy gestation, when she finally did arrive, she blew everyone else out of the water. Built by The Italian Sea Group, her exteriors were crafted by Azure Yacht Design and German architects, while her interiors mark Jouin Manku’s first foray into the nautical world. Kenshō’s progress was meticulously monitored and driven by her owner who revelled in seeing his dream come to life.

The fact that she is authentically disruptive is obvious even at first glance. Her exterior is characterised by a reverse bow, a long, clean sailing-inspired foredeck, soft lines, glass guard rails that allow the eye run free, and a full-beam interior on the main deck. To offset Kenshō’s structural height, her aft deck and sun deck lines have been lowered with soft curves aft to lend the overall look a sleek softness. The result is that she has a monolithic grace that seems sculpted by sea and wave. But is only when one steps aboard that things get truly astonishing. For a simple reason: Kenshō is the exact opposite of what we’ve come to expect from 75m superyachts! She really is a rule-breaker but also intimate, welcoming and seductive, hinting that she is the forerunner of a new philosophy of seafaring.

First and foremost Kenshō doesn’t have any formal saloons or dining rooms. Rather it is the sea, or views of it, that reign supreme. Although in constant contact with the outside world, the interiors also give guests the feeling of floating in an exclusive, cocoon-like bubble. Spread over three decks plus a fly, Kenshō also has an unusual but extraordinarily successful layout. Her lower deck boasts a striking aft window which is protected by watertight hatch underway. The deck is also home to five guest staterooms, a gym amidships and crew quarters forward. It also makes it abundantly clear that above it, many pleasant surprises await.

Starting from a series of water colour sketches, Jouin Manku designed the entire interiors to constantly reference the marine environment. They also effortlessly meld European and Asian lifestyles through the use of sublimely precious, noble materials which have been given a seductive textural appeal that also attracts the eye and is a signature in all of the various spaces.

In the lower deck staterooms, the head rests are upholstered in Tessitura Serenza silk with a stylised Ginko Bilboa leaf motif, a symbol of rebirth in Asian culture. The coral-shaped door handles on the cabins were cast in bronze while the walls running along the corridor are adorned with artworks in leather by British artist Helen Amy Murray. But that’s just the start of the story because Jouin Manku’s creative talent and the owner’s farsighted, laser-sharp ideas only really begin to take serious shape on the deck above. Entirely full-beam, this is probably the only megayacht main deck not to have a saloon.

The exterior cockpit makes it clear just how radical Kenshō is, taking up considerable space and boasting an oversized sofa facing an oval bar with a more intimate dining area to port. The dining room is quite simply stunning. However, it is much more than that name implies: it’s also a conversation area, a library, an art gallery and a collection of private memories. Two large tables sit on either side of the central walkway and can slide together to seat 12. Behind them are glass cases filled with personal mementoes and art works reflecting the allure the sea has held for man since the dawn of time and the legends that have sprung from that fascination. This is a wonderful conversation piece but also a new and very different take on the concept of onboard living.

Moving forward there are two guest staterooms that are, to all intents and purposes, identical to those on the deck below aside from their much more expansive windows. Next are the master quarters which can also be reached via the large central stairs that connects all the decks. Divided into four different areas connected by sliding doors, this is most definitely Kenshō’s most intimate and private area. It is also the pinnacle of Jouin Maku’s creative genius and where the owner’s philosophy is clearest.
A heaven of tranquility and elegance, the master suite spans a lounge, master cabin, dressing room and bathroom. Teak and silk alternate to stunning effect in the lounge in a glorious interweaving of tradition and sophistication. The teak, which is used to frame the walls and ceilings, is softened by the sublime silk used for the ceiling and wall panels, the latter lent even greater warmth by clever lighting.

There is also a large sinuous sofa at the centre of the room and a virtuoso and artistic sliding door created by Steaven Richard leading into the master cabin itself. It is made from brass panels with a stunning patina created using an ancient technique involving heating and chemical reactions. The master suite is a Zen retreat with a large hand-embroidered silk panel depicting an Asian landscape in shades of blue behind the bed. The dressing room, to port of the lounge, is a masterpiece of elegance and sophistication too. Entirely lined with closets panelled in painted, hand-embroidered silk depicting a single Japanese-style landscape. There is a small dormouse at its centre and a vanity table under the large window.

Lastly, the bathroom is dominated by an amazing bath tub carved from a single block of Carrara marble. “There is an interesting story to it,” smiled Sanjit Manku during our visit aboard. “Initially it was to be made from onyx from Iran. But we had trouble with the sourcing and then realised that importing marble from Iran to Italy was absurd as Admiral itself is located in one of the great homes of marble!
That said, blocks of marble of this size and quality are extremely difficult to find now. However, in the end, the team’s patience was rewarded. Skilled workmanship has created a stunning piece that feels as soft as silk and is quite impossible to resist caressing.

Things get more radical still as we move upward. On Kenshō’s upper and sun decks, there are no visual obstacles at all from stem to stern. No matter where a guest stands on the midline on either deck they will be able see the sea at either end of the yacht. This might not seem any great departure but in reality it creates the most remarkable feeling of being in the middle of the sea even when standing in the central corridor. This was made possible by shifting the pilothouse to the main deck and deciding against a more traditional master suite with the panoramic views forward. In its stead, on the deck above, is a saloon surrounded by floorto-ceiling windows that not only offer spectacular views of the seascape but also a wonderfully cosy, warm space with a back-lit library and large rounded sofas on rails that can slide around to suit requirements.

Last but most certainly not least is the sun deck. Here in the shade of shade of the pillars of the large shell-shaped hard top dome is a dining area and a single-piece island bar. Yet another hint that this area was designed to host glorious celebrations. Because despite her ground-breaking style and philosophy, Kenshō never forgets that she is a gathering place for the owner and his guests to can relax and enjoy each other’s company.