London Design Week: The Psychology of Superyacht Design

Upbeat and vibrant, London Design Week offers the perfect opportunity to attend interesting talks, workshops and events hosted by acclaimed professionals, and get a glimpse behind the scenes at beautiful shops and showrooms.

Set across six days in the inspiring and influential Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour, the programme showcases the latest launches, inspirations and insights.

Intrigued by the connection between psychology and aesthetics, we attended the Superyacht Design Summit talk with consumer psychologist Patrick Fagan and The Superyacht Group at the Summit Furniture showroom.

Fagan, a behavioural scientist who specialises in applying psychological science to business insight, focused on how our minds respond in different environments and subconsciously influence every aspect of our lives, including the space we live in and design.
In psychology, our minds are considered to be cognitive misers, a term that describes our ability and tendency to problem solve in the most straight-forward way, choosing shortcuts to avoid more complex reasoning. This ‘non-thinking’ habit is due to the size of our unconscious mind, which takes up 99.9% of our brain.

Largely driven by our emotions and instincts, we are unaware of most of the functioning of our minds and bodies, simply because there is too much going on below the surface level. Our brain, however, registers huge amounts of information and works out what we need to pay attention to and what can be archived. From moving our bodies to creating our spaces, the unconscious affects the vast majority of our actions, with our preferences relying mostly on psychological and social aspects and very rarely on absolute judgements.

Businesses have recently been investing more in behavioural research to get to know their customers and understand the process behind their choices in order to create exclusive and successful products. Personalisation has become an essential tool to deliver new and unique experiences and allow companies to stand out from their competitors. Highly targeted adverts and suggestions show brands are paying attention to their customers’ habits and are therefore perceived as more persuasive and effective, as they are a sure way to give a message greater resonance.

In terms of design, analysing customers’ personalities can help create bespoke solutions that will suit different styles and tastes. In just one tenth of a second, our brain can create a first impression of a person that is accurate in 75% of cases. Through a deeper analysis and a number of social cues, we are then able to determine what kind of aesthetics clients desire. Whereas open and extroverted people tend to prefer stimulating, artistic and complex environments that offer the opportunity to be active and sociable, conscientious and agreeable individuals often opt for conventional and harmonious spaces decorated with warm and gentle colours. Neurotic characters, on the other hand, often seek dark, comforting and calm schemes that feature different textures and sumptuous fabrics.
In most cases, personalities are a mix of the different traits – high-net-worth individuals, for example, tend to be more extroverted and conscientious as well as more stable and in control of their lives.

We found Fagan’s approach to be both fascinating and stimulating. Design is often mistaken for creativity, however, there are so many different factors that come into play. Unlocking the secrets of the brain can help us understand and define the ‘blueprint’ for how we perceive and process the world around us, including design.