Kate Seremeth of Tack Studios on designing yachts
“To me, designing yachts feels like a hybrid of automotive design and interior design.”
MH+D asks Seremeth to tell us more
Q. How long have you been designing yachts, and what drew you to this type of work?
A. I have been in the yachting industry for about 16 years. I started working for yacht companies soon after receiving my degree in industrial design but then left to take a job as an interior designer for an architectural firm in New York. It was a wonderful experience to design the interiors of apartments off Central Park—I took my clients to the best design studios and learned a tremendous amount about luxury materials, fabrics, and furniture. After a few years I was recruited back to the yachting industry by a yacht company. I was in the concept department, which was the “dream factory” so to speak. This is where yachts come to life on paper with sketches, 3-D modeling, and fabric.
Q. What does TACK Studios offer their clients that separates them from other leaders in the industry?
A. When I decided to start my own business, it was important to me to offer the client an experience that combines my knowledge of industrial design and interior design with how boatyards actually build. The interior design final touches on these spaces are truly what make the boat sing. TACK works with companies on power and sail, new construction and refit. A huge reason I do what I do is as an expression of my passion through self-expression; it’s a lot like painting. But the key to it all is making sure the end design clearly represents the client’s passion. At the end of the day, this is the client’s yacht. It’s where they go to dream, to get away, to be truly free—it’s the perfect opportunity to fearlessly express themselves. It’s so gratifying to do the final walk-through with clients and see their posture melt a bit as they say, “Ahh, this is me.” Our clients are starting to ask that we do their homes. I am actually flying out in a couple of weeks to a client’s house to start a residential design project.
Q. I’m sure you get asked this a lot, but how did you decide on the name TACK?
A. I named the business TACK not just because it is a nautical term, but also because it is very much a feeling. When you are tacking on a boat it is a literal shift of direction, a movement of energy. Everyone on the boat must work together to “shift.” When I’m about to tack on a boat, I get a fire-in-my-belly type of feeling—an anticipation, a thrill. It’s extremely similar to when I am designing. When I’m sketching a new concept or pulling materials that I know hit the spirit of the client, I get that same fire in my belly. It’s when I know I’m on the right track. The client, the builder, the naval architect, and I must all work together to “tack” and move the project from concept to reality. It’s invigorating. Interestingly, when I was on the phone yesterday with Baltic Yachts, a custom yard in Finland, they reminded me that it means “thank you” in Swedish. I do hear “thank you” a lot.
Q. How do you settle on a particular design aesthetic?
A. As with many design firms, a large part of what we do is help clients discover and express their vision. It’s a beautiful thing to weave both of our styles together and land on a unique concept while still using materials that work at sea. It can take some digging at times. My internship in college was with Nissan Design of America in San Diego, where I helped design the concept cars. When I discover a client is an automotive enthusiast, I like to introduce a more automotive stitch detail, or a leather baseball stitch, to their helm seat. From a design perspective, the sea is a wonderful canvas upon which to design. I feel extremely lucky to have this venue to express myself. To watch my clients’ faces light up and see that passion is what it’s all about for me. In my own way I feel like I’m helping people. And if I can help create an environment that brings them joy, I like to think they will go back into their daily lives refreshed and with a good energy and attitude.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about material and color selection?
A. I love combining materials like wood, leather, and metal to create environments that have visual contrast and texture. Of course, I enjoy a nautical aesthetic as well, though you will never catch me using a fabric with anchors and lighthouses. I’m more interested in working with nautical colors. I believe the backdrop of where you cruise is a huge part of the story and the color palette. If you are cruising in the Northeast, I look at materials that are more harmonious with the deep blues and greens of the coast as well as introducing lighter colors that vibrate against the gray of the rocky shore. If you cruise in the Caribbean or the Mediterranean I like to introduce brighter colors that harmonize with the luminous sea and white sands.
MH+D is proud to partner with acclaimed architectural photographer Trent Bell on his architecture, design, and photography podcast. To hear Trent Bell’s conversation with Kate Seremeth, please visit trentbell.com/podcast