Seminal Design

"When I started ocean racing in the '60's, I soon became aware of how much more difficult and dangerous it was to move around the boat in an extreme heeled condition."

The “HEELWALK” concept was presented to Jenson Marine 1n 1972 and immediately incorporated in to the new Ranger 1-Ton.

Progression of Deck-Cabinside realtionship leading to RANGER 1-TON

This “seminal” work opened the door for the industry’s exploration of new
deck and house configurations.

The Wrap-Around Lounge

Remember when, in boats from 22’ to 34’, you had a choice of only two arrangements: "Drop-leaf table" galley aft, or "Dinette" galley opposite, both with v-berth, head and hanging locker forward?

Artese wanted to create a comfortable lounge area where you could get your feet up and relax in a conversational setting. Moving head and hanging locker aft, this allowed the lounge to extend forward to the v-berth bulkhead, run athwartships, and up the other side to the galley aft. This created a "J" or "U" shaped lounge. The versatile table rotated about the mast support, and folded to a variety of configurations.

This "Wrap-Around Lounge" concept, which offered extraordinary comfort and flexibility, was immediately picked up by both the production power and sail industry and is now found on from one third to one half of all boats in this size range.

Joseph Artese Design was founded in 1969 with the commission by Islander Yachts to style their new line of production sailboats. 

Prior to this, I studied industrial design at The University of Bridgeport in Connecticut and at the Art Center in L.A. My early career was varied, involving a year at a Manhattan product design firm, then on to Douglas Aircraft designing the interior of the first DC-9, and designing at other aerospace companies before settling as head of production design at Columbia Yachts.

This design experience together with having spent New England summers sailing on Long Island sound and later building and campaigning a tricked-out racing yawl in regattas off Southern California, became invaluable assets when I tackled a commission from Islander Yachts - the commission that launched Joseph Artese Design

Free of previous constraints, I was given carte blanche to incorporate several innovative human engineering and aesthetic design features.  The Islander 36 was a tremendous success selling 750 units which put Islander on the map and launched me headlong into a career that has served me well.

One of the principal elements of an industrial designer’s education is exercising creativity. We are trained to "think outside the box", to strive for new and better ways to solve design problems and to do so in the most exciting or satisfying aesthetic way. I don’t know how much of this is learned and how much is innate but it has always been important to me.

When I started ocean racing in the 60’s, I soon became aware of how much more difficult and dangerous it was to move around the boat in an extreme heeled condition. This naturally led to imagining how much better it would be if the crew could walk on a horizontal surface throughout the range of heel, as if the deck were "gimbaled".

Unique, Groundbreaking Design Innovation

The first chance I had to incorporate elements of this feature was when I was commissioned to develop the Islander 36 production sailboat in 1969. The deck version of this concept was too radical for Islander at the time and I was only able to use the "heelwalk" feature in the cockpit. (Please see I-36 Designer’s Notes).

I did find a receptive audience at the Ranger Yachts Division of Jenson Marine however. Ranger immediately modified their new tooling to incorporate elements of my patent applied for "Gimbaled Deck" concept in Gary Mull’s Ranger 1-Ton. By radically slanting the cabin sides so they could be walked on, the mold was broken, so to speak, and led the way for the rest of the fleet to begin experimenting with new, slanted cabin side and deck configurations.

After all, there was no longer any reason to be constrained to the limitations of wooden boat building shapes as fiberglass allowed us much more freedom to explore new forms and better function.

The Yankee 26 interior had nothing to do with deck design but ironically it was the Gimbaled deck concept that got me the commission. I had taken my deck concept to my neighbor, yacht racer Bill Ficker to get his expert opinion on its feasibility. Ficker, who had just signed the contract to steer the latest 12 meter Americas Cup defender from Sparkman & Stephens, asked me if I would like to work on the new 12. I was stunned to say the least and figured that that would be the last of it until I got a letter from Olin Stephens asking me to come back to New York as a consultant. We looked at the deck concept from all angles and ultimately decided that the 12’s just didn’t heel enough to warrant the application of the feature. However, Olin did have a project for me…The Yankee 26 interior.

Yankee Yachts was an S&S client, a privately held company that produced an extremely well, if not over built, line of sailboats that were ultimately too highly priced to be competitive in that market. Yankee was on its last legs and Olin asked me to do whatever I could do to try to save it. The deck was already tooled so that left the interior for me to work with.

I was very flattered to be in this position and was absolutely determined to do the best job I knew how to help S&S and Yankee. I knew that we needed a radical new approach that would cause the market to sit up and take notice if we were going to turn things around.

At that time, in the early 1970's, there were only two interior arrangements that were available for boats in that size range: (1), Port & starboard settee with drop-leaf table between and galley aft, or, (2), Dinette opposite galley. Both of these arrangements had the head opposite the hanging locker immediately aft of the v-berth.

Personal Comfort

My principal design objectives were real, "get your feet up" comfort as well as an increased visual sense of space. The conventional solutions were so claustrophobic. I thought that if I could only capture the visual space in the v-berth area and move the head and hanging locker aft and out of the way, that would really open things up. And so it did. But I explored the concept feeling that this was a useless exercise for my extremely conservative clients. Who ever heard of getting rid of the privacy for the v-berth, moving the head aft and putting the hanging locker in the head?

An Increased Sense of Visual Spaciousness

As I worked with the new layout though, I became more and more excited about it. The privacy problem was mitigated with a heavy privacy curtain and a gasket on the hanging locker door would help solve that problem. The great thing was that the lounge area could run down one side, across the v-berth bulkhead and up the other side. The table could rotate about the mast to a variety of positions including totally out of the way. The "openness" and "flexibility" were wonderful!

When I presented the new layout to Yankee, my client held the drawing for a long time without saying a word. I figured that he didn’t like it and was trying to figure out a way to let me down gently. Finally I asked him, "Well, what do you think?" He turned to me and said, "It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen". Then he said, "But Joe, no one has ever asked me for anything like this!" With great relief, I confidently replied, "Of course not. No one has ever seen this layout before".

The new layout was introduced at the Annapolis Boat Show and was immediately adopted by several production builders of both sail and power. A couple of years later, almost half of the boats from 22’ to 30’ used this new "wrap around" layout.









"I don't think that there is a designer of yachts in this country that has not knowingly or un- knowingly copied Joe's ideas".

Naval Architect, Bob Perry, Techinical Editor of Sailing Mag

Copyright © 2009 Joseph Artese Design
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