Steve Jobs' yacht gives insights into his design process

Jobs and noted designer Philippe Starck spent five years working out the details of the super yacht Venus.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
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Eric Mack
2 min read
Jobs worked for years to refine the details of a boat he would never get to board. One More Thing/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Last month, we stumbled upon videos of Steve Jobs' yacht, the Venus, which was reportedly unveiled a year after Jobs' death. The sleek, clean design has a certain Apple Store look to it, complete with a row of 27-inch iMacs on board, but there's no evidence the crew will don those blue Genius bar shirts.

Then recently SuperYacht Times interviewed French designer Philippe Starck, who Jobs collaborated with to design Venus. (You might remember erroneous reports earlier this year that alleged Starck was involved in designing a new Apple product -- turns out the project in question was actually Jobs' yacht.)

What Starck reveals about co-creating with Jobs sheds some light on the late icon's iDesign process.

Starck says that in the beginning, in a move that would seem uncharacteristic, Jobs gave him "carte blanche."

[Jobs] just gave me the length and the number of guests he wanted to accommodate, and that was it. In our very first meeting we had little time to speak, so I told him, I will design it, as if it is for myself.

But that was just the beginning of the design process with Jobs. Starck goes on to say that he and Jobs would spend one day every six weeks, from 2007 until his death in 2011, going over refinements "Millimetre by millimetre. Detail by detail."

Here's where the notorious control freak in Jobs apparently kicks in. Starck had nothing but praise for his client in the interview, but he describes a process of constantly simplifying and refining the design for Venus.

We came back on the same details until they were perfect. We had many calls about parameters, the result is the perfect application of our joined philosophy.

Perhaps not ironically, that philosophy was a page pulled from Apple's playbook -- striving for simplicity with purpose. The result is something more "stark" (sorry) than the ostentatious character of other super yachts. Starck claims there is not a single "useless pillow" or other object inside Venus.

I haven't heard of any plans for an Apple iYacht, but I wouldn't be surprised if some developer out there somewhere is busy at work for the Jobs family on some apps designed specifically for Venus' future voyages.