An unprecedented portrait of one of the most well-known designer worldwide. His studio deals with luxurious residences, aviation and yachting. His maximum ambition is that of people saying: “I want a Winch”
«It’s the most intense and most important week of my life» – this is how the renowned English designer Andrew Winch started off our interview in London, in occasion of an event about yachting.
But what has made the week so special for one of the biggest nautical designe
r in the world? On this occasion Andrew has met an important client aboard a mega yacht built on one of his project. The great satisfaction of the ship owner earned him an extraordinary delight. «The day after – he tells us – I went to the launch of another of my creation, a 64 metres Amels and, on that occasion too, ship owners and friends were totally fascinated by the purchase».
He supervised other two boats he realised with Lürssen and went back to London to meet a client in his studio, deliver a presentation for an event and focus on the speech he would write for the forthcoming wedding of his daughter. This is how we started talking about his private life.
Family is extremely important for
Mr Winch and it plays a decisive role in a perfect combination in which life sets aside only positive things.
Andrew’s life is divided between his summer house in the country-side, where he enjoys driving his inseparable tractor, and his prestigious office in London, which he manages with the professional support of 76 members of staff, employed on civil architecture projects, aircraft and boats design and who come from 16 different countries. A number that is bound to increase considering the amount work the office is accumulating.
In his office, Andrew has worked together with his wife for 30 years. He has always co
vered the role of Design Director while his wife that of Managing Director. Despite those being the years when designers began to look, with a sort of insolent interest, at the world of computers, Andrew has never had or used one and for drawing he has always relied on pencil and paper. His is a polite aversion which obliges him to dictate texts to others when he has to write or send emails or other documents.
But this does not distance him from the declared will of making his studio an example of culture and quality, a will that has been accomplished in every respect.
«My dream – he says – is that our projects will one day be chosen and recognised for their distinctive traits. I hope people will one day say they want a Winch in the same way they today say they want a Lürssen or a Feadship».
To this purpose, we asked him his opinion on the recent difficulties the market encounters in selling mega sailing yachts and he answered with a very grounded assumption: «I think everything goes through cycles: life, work, nature, even economy, and once this cycle is completed it is necessary to find a new energy that would start off a new one. It is important that clients start again to connect to the values and quality of life that boats can provide».
«I love sailing – he continues – I learnt when I was 5 years old and I was on the south coast of England with my father, a lively youngster now going towards his 95th birthday. One day he asked me what was the thing that made me the happiest in the world and I answered, with no hesitation, that it was being in contact with the sea». And that was the moment when his father marked his destiny suggesting him to jump on a sailing boat. «He bought me many of them – he goes on – but the first time he came with a brilliant gift: a kit to build a 23 feet sailing boat which I assembled on my own in our garden. I’ve always had difficulties related to dyslexia and I am convinced this is one of my strength and an opportunity that life provided me with. I could not read the handbook properly but I completed the boat and I then used it for sailing and racing».
Many other boats came into Andrew’s life, including a Bénéteau 42’ with which he went for many races. With the full support of his father in regards to his passion, he managed to enjoy the freedom of thinking only to navigation, without worrying too much about costs and maintenance.
«I remember once – he tells us – when in a winter day I told my father I had a big problem with the boat because, during a race, I got too close to the shore and the tip of the mast touched a pole on the mainland. He immediately asked me if anyone got hurt and then reassured me saying that the solution to the problem was very simple: we would have bought a new mast».
Despite this Andrew has learnt that you must not go too close to the shore. His father has always made sure to solve his and his brothers’ problems. And this is the way Andrew behaves with his colleagues in his studio. You always learn something from anything. Every mistake must be a lesson for the future because the most important thing is not
to persist in wrong actions.
To the question about which project made him the proudest, he answered: «The first time was with a NautorSwan 36 from 1986. I was lucky to work in Finland with the shipyard and with German Frers who designed the boat. I dealt with the external lines, designing wide windows and new internal layouts. Then I worked on the Swan 44 and, considering the big success obtained, I considered to start with my own studio. In these exact days, I actually got in touch with Swann and I will take part in the creation of the new Jeanneau Yacht range. I will mainly work on the design of spaces which are intended to be comfortable and practical at the same time». According to Andrew, a successful project for a boat must provide good and strong ergonomics.
(Andrew Winch, a new energy – Barchemagazine.com – October 2017)