For twenty years, Ivan Erdevicki has lived and worked in his adopted city of Vancouver, where he spends his time creating extremely varied, and often surprising, boat designs
by Bruno Cianci
IF YOU ARE BORN IN A TOWN LIKE HERCEG NOVI, IN PRESENT-DAY MONTENEGRO, THE SEA IS INEVITABLY GOING TO BE IMPRINTED IN YOUR DNA. The town is located at the entrance of the Bay of Kotor, and over the years was controlled by the Romans, Byzantines, Bosnians, Ottomans, Venetians, Russians, French and Austrians, before becoming part of the Kingdom and then the Federation of Yugoslavia.
As a boy, Ivan Erdevicki would gaze out of his school windows towards the horizon and the Adriatic Sea, his first source of inspiration, and dream of adventures on the waves. During lessons, he secretly filled entire exercise books with sketches of boats and ships of various types, everything from motorboats and tall ships to motorsailers, a seed that eventually grew into a desire to do the same thing for a living.
«I have a good feeling about my new 62-metre Expedition yacht, which I am certain will be one of the most elegant of its type on the market».
The 62-metre expedition yacht is the pinnacle of Ivan Erdevicki’s work as a designer to date and will be launched soon, as will Gotham, the project to which he feels most attached.
«I kept on designing boats», Ivan told us from his office-cum-studio in Vancouver, «so when it was time to apply for university, I already had a good idea of what I wanted to do. I get goosebumps when I think back on that feeling, my eagerness to experiment with colours and contrasts, lines, forms and volumes, taking inspiration from my surroundings».
As a child, your imagination is free to run wild, without any barriers or restrictions; today the process has changed a little, but his everyday life continues to be a source of inspiration. «When I’m walking down the street», the owner of ER Design notes, «when I’m sailing and even when I’m watching TV, I’m subconsciously absorbing ideas and forms that I then transfer into my boats; my mind absorbs everything, and when I come to design a yacht, the ideas come out spontaneously and defined, apparently effortlessly».
Vancouver is a cosmopolitan city, with modern architecture and enchanting natural surroundings. We ask him the obvious question – how did a Montenegrin end up in Canada? He explains: «I began visiting the West Coast when I was playing water polo for UCLA in Los Angeles. After moving to Connecticut to complete my studies, I worked as an engineer in Seattle for Delta Yachts. Vancouver is very close to Seattle and so, when my brother took his family there in 1999, I decided to follow him. Vancouver is one of the finest cities in the world, and the Pacific coast is equally beautiful».
Hong-Kong based shipyard Kingship Marine has launched the King Cat 80, a 24-metre catamaran. The aluminium-hulled motor yacht has been designed specifically with the Asian market in mind and features a Chinese-style interior layout complemented by the oriental décor on board.
And if that were not enough, another designer who needs no introduction settled in the same city: Ron Holland. «When I was at high school», Erdevicki continues, «I had some of Ron’s boat designs on my wall. Now I can meet him for a chat. I recently invited him for a coffee in my new office, and he brought along a copy of his autobiography All the Oceans as a gift; although I don’t work closely with him, I feel lucky to have him as a neighbour».
Ivan Erdevicki inevitably draws inspiration from the work of his colleagues: he has long been a fan of the sailing boats designed by William Fife III and German Frers, Jon Bannenberg’s superyachts and Donald Starkey’s interiors. In Italy, he particularly admires Mario Pedol and his Nauta Design studio, due to «his approach to design and his excellent eye for forms, proportions, cleanness and functionality in his work». The numerous boats Erdevicki has created, some of which have been sailing the seas for almost two decades, draw a little from each of these influences, as well as from his natural talent and wealth of experience.
If you are born in a town like Herceg Novi, in the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro, the sea is inevitably going to be imprinted in your DNA.
He has recently designed a 24-metre sailing catamaran for the Chinese market, but the design he feels most attached to is Gotham, a motor yacht currently being built by the Icon Yachts shipyard: «It’s a unique, rather aggressive 46-metre yacht, and designing it required a serious amount of effort: a real test for a boat designer. It has received considerable critical success, and I can’t wait for it to be built. Of course, people may not like it, but more than any other it’s the project that inspired my motto ‘In Pursuit of Perfection’, given the amount of attention I paid to the details. I think perfection – a balance between harmony and form – is possible, and it is something I am always looking for in a yacht. When I observe a boat, I never start from the assumption that it will be ugly: I have seen supposedly unremarkable yachts that display real character, and I have seen gleaming boats with a major name attached with no personality whatsoever».
«I get goosebumps when I think back on how good it felt to experiment with colours and contrasts, lines, forms and volumes, taking inspiration from my surroundings».
As well as Gotham, Ivan Erdevicki is working on other projects, including one of the massive proportions that unfortunately he cannot tell us anything about: «It will certainly get people talking», he assures us, «but I can’t reveal anything else – all I can say is wait and see». Also, he adds, «we have some interesting designs on the drawing board. I have a good feeling about a 62-metre expedition yacht we’re working on, which I think will be one of the most elegant of its type on the market. I’m also developing a 60-metre sport yacht for Turquoise Yachts and a sailing boat of the same size for a private client. Otherwise, I’m focusing on other new designs and conversions of fast 45-foot aluminium boats for the police, a 125-foot passenger boat, a 60-foot electric ferry and a 164-foot yacht for Crescent Yachts».
The headquarters of ER Design, Ivan Erdevicki’s studio and office with a panoramic view is located on West Hastings Street. He lives in the residential district of West Vancouver (photo: B. Cianci).
Ivan certainly isn’t short of work, just like he never seems short of inspiration. From the windows of his studio, with its panoramic view, one can just glimpse the calm, dark ocean. It’s not the Adriatic, but for someone accustomed to looking out to sea before they put pencil to paper, it makes little difference.
(Ivan Erdevicki, in pursuit of perfection – Barchemagazine.com – November 2020)