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Dickie Bannenberg

Yacht designer at Heesen

Dickie Bannenberg has worked hand in hand with his father for the last 15 years as a yachts designer at Bannenberg & Rowell Design while also being an art advisor for the whealthy clients of the company. Artsper went to ask him a few questions about his double career.

{Artsper} You started designing Yachts years ago alongside your father. Was it always your dream job?
{Dickie Bannenberg} Actually, not really. There weren’t any conversations in the Bannenberg household about me joining my father one day. He applied no pressure whatsoever – hence my singularly inappropriate geography degree. But Bannenberg design sensibility must have just oozed into me over the years of being my father’s son and, after several years of being a staffer at Condé Nast, I joined the studio.

{Artsper} What is the most important professional advice your father gave to you?
{Dickie Bannenberg} He never gave advice as such : it was just perfectly clear that his way was ( by and large ! ) the best way. That said, he’s an impossible act to follow. I just try to remember qualities such as fearlessness, charm, determination, overarched by “don’t run with the herd”.

{Artsper} I saw pictures of some of the Heseen Yachts that you draw. You know how to make a lady dream… What would you say sets your design apart from the competitors?
{Dickie Bannenberg} Well, each to their own. I hope our work is smart, progressive but approachable.

{Artsper} You also advise yacht owners on choosing artworks that fit with their interior, how does that work?
{Dickie Bannenberg} It is a variable process ! Sometimes we have clients with an existing art collection and a keen sense of how they might incorporate pieces on their yacht. Other times we get clients who, on the face of it, show no interest at all and resist all attempts by us to suggest artwork for the project – something which causes physical pain. At the very least artworks help complete the entire interior design but can be more embedded from early on in the design process. The latter is much more successful in terms of a considered approach and can often inform the design direction for a particular space.
In any event, we are more than happy to assist with artwork selection – working with artists and galleries and, sometimes clients’ curators or consultants.

{Artsper} Are there lots of logistical/technical constraints when you choose works for a boat?
{Dickie Bannenberg} Nothing especially complicated but, obviously, the sea fastening of larger pieces of artwork – sculptures etc – requires careful attention and thought. Some of the recent glass pieces on a newly delivered Feadship required custom-designed and made bronze armatures. So there’s often an equal amount of design input into the setting and securing of artwork. The air conditioning and humidity regulation on modern yachts means that they do not generally have to exist in an hostile atmosphere.

{Artsper} What led you to be an “Art advisor” for your clients? What place does art have in your life?
{Dickie Bannenberg} I think “Art Advisor” is putting it a bit strongly ! I don’t presume to be an advisor. But I do know what I like and what I think will look good on a project. Personally, I have pretty catholic tastes ranging from some of the English artists of the 30s and 40s such as Ravillious and Nash to contemporary figures such as Jim Dine, Antony Donaldson and Julian Opie.

{Artsper} Could you tell me what is the most impressive piece that you saw on a Yacht?
{Dickie Bannenberg} The Owners of Galactica Star – the 65m yacht delivered by Heesen were stunning exceptions to the rule of sometimes reluctant art patrons. They put several eye-catching pieces on board, my favourite of which was the extraordinary leather dollar bill by Mark Evans from the Hus Gallery in London.

{Artsper} Is there an artist that you particularly admire or whose work inspires you?
{Dickie Bannenberg} I particularly liked a series of bronze and stone sculptures by John Farnham put on board a yacht we designed for a Scottish family.

{Artsper} What do you think about new technologies recently modifying the art market? And more specifically, what do you think about websites like Artsper that allow to purchase artworks directly online?
{Dickie Bannenberg} Artsper makes my run of art catalogues on the shelf behind me look positively Dickensian. It makes it much easier for me to consider some options. It’s clearly the way to go. It won’t replace walking round a gallery with a real life Client but that happens comparatively rarely. Anything that reduces the chances of a client sailing off into the distance without any artwork on board gets my gratitude.

{Artsper} I read in an interview that you had no Yacht yourself. Do you think that one day you will draw yourself a boat?
{Dickie Bannenberg} Absolutely. No. Chance. Very happy to have a studio designing them but that’s it.
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Sibylle Baltzer, Untitled, Painting

Sibylle Baltzer

Untitled, 2011
11.8 x 11.8 x 2 inch