DESIGNER IN PROFILE: Robert Stephens, Stephens Waring Yacht Design

Stephens Waring Yacht Design recently reached the shortlist with two entries for the IY&A Awards 2014. Their projects, Rapture and Citronella, will compete for the Yacht Concept Design up to 30 metre Award. (To enter the awards email


Robert Stephens

Robert Stephens

Name: Robert W. (Bob) Stephens

Company: Stephens Waring Yacht Design

Position within company: Principal



What direction do you feel design is moving towards in general terms?

The incorporation of retro elements is a big theme now. We’ve been working in a tradition-inspired vein for years—the challenge is to keep the freshness of innovation at the forefront.



What projects are you currently working on?

We’re developing the powerboat side of our portfolio, with more power than sail at the moment. We currently have several powerboats, from an all-varnished mahogany runabout through classic open tenders to a couple of 14-meter weekend cruisers. Also underway is a 44’ (14 m) classic cruising sailboat.


A designer’s work is so diverse – how do you manage to hold down a career and a life?

Working in Maine is a great life—the lower-key country atmosphere makes it easier to keep family as a priority. Also, when our clients visit, the change of pace makes it more of a vacation for them, and their attitude is to slow down and have fun!


Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2014 and beyond.

– Keep distinctive style at the forefront

– Focus on easy access to the water and shore

– Design around people’s lives and bodies

– Keep the look crisp and clean

– Develop Green elements like low-demand systems and high-efficiency hulls


If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design schemes, what would it be?

Make sure your design works as a whole, not just well-functioning parts. Keep unity of purpose and concept in mind.


How important are The International Yacht and Aviation Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?

It’s important to get our work exposed to an international audience and see how we stack up against the best that’s out there.


How do you relax?

I’m an avid cook. I love to develop techniques and try new blends of flavours from around the world.


What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?

Continue expanding the recognition of our firm—while we’re well-known in the small circle of Spirit of Tradition sailboats, our expertise in a wider range of craft, and farther afield than the northeast US, is much less recognised.


Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself:

The car you drive? – VW Jetta SportWagen TDI—fuel-efficient and solid

Your favourite place to travel to in the world? – Northern Italy—the food!

The place that gives you the most energy? – On the slopes at Sugarloaf Mountain

And the place that enables you to totally relax? – In the cockpit of a boat, after a long-distance race, at sunset, with a rum drink

Your favourite food and drink? – Cassoulet, and a good Manhattan