Today we celebrate our 40th anniversary!
Established in 1979, Mulder Design has enjoyed a successful career spanning over four decades, and doesn’t show any signs of stopping any time soon. The past 40 years have seen approximately 1,000 of the company’s designs come to life including the now famous high-speed yachts Octopussy, Moonraker, and The World Is Not Enough. The name of the family-run company has certainly become synonymous with high quality superyachts.
Founder of the company, Frank Mulder, lead a brief career in the yachting industry before setting up a company of his very own. Starting out in 1974 with Dutch shipyard Amels, he moved on after two years to work at another Dutch, quality shipyard, Damen. Three years later, Mulder Design was born. Frank observes that superyacht industry today is almost incomparable to that at the beginning of his career, with absolutely no evidence of a real superyacht scene and most yachts being drastically smaller than the superyachts we see today. He says, “It was zero, absolutely zero. It was a lot of smaller boats, so it was an interesting time. Completely different from today.”
Today, competition is fierce and luxury superyachts are seemingly constantly breaking the previously assumed boundaries when it comes to technology, speed and size. Bas Mulder, Frank’s son, and now owner of the company, explains what makes Mulder Design stand out from other superyacht design companies. He says, “I think one of the things that make us different is that we do a lot of composite boats, big ones, like the 46 metre we did at Vicem, and we’re going to do a much bigger one now. We also start from the bottom up. Stylists are very good at making a yacht look good, but always need somebody to make it float. I think the total incorporation of all the design aspects makes a good boat and that’s where we differ. We like to do the whole thing, styling, naval architecture and engineering. We also have a lot of knowledge of fast boats and that is actually very limited in our industry.”
This knowledge of fast vessels is partly to thank for the success of the company today. With a referral in hand, the famous American mogul John Staluppi rang Frank in the mid 1980s. It was a conversation that would lead to the construction of some of the most famous superyachts in the world. The first large yacht built for Staluppi was Octopussy. Frank talks about the birth of the project, saying, “It was a fascinating beginning. Monday afternoon the telephone rang. He introduced himself, ‘My name is John Staluppi, you don’t know me but I’ve got a reference for you and I have a question.’ The question was can you build me the fastest motor yacht in the world. He had already bought the engines and gave me the information. I said I would need to call him back.
“In those days in 1986 I had a very small computer with my own programme on it for speed prediction. I looked at it and ran some calculations. I called him back and said, ‘I think so.’ The next morning he was at Schiphol airport.” The yacht was built at the Heesen shipyard, a result of a blooming relationship between the design company and shipyard and a relationship that has produced a number of fantastic projects, including the 36 metre Tropic Sea and her sister ships.
Frank and John Staluppi’s relationship has grown to a friendship. “He is an interesting guy. Very impatient, which really suits the projects we do together. He’s very loyal, a real family man, and a good guy”, Frank says. Their friendship however does not automatically imply that all of Staluppi’s projects end up on the drawing board of Mulder Design. “Whether or not he also lets other designers pitch against us, I don’t know, you would probably have to ask him that… But he appreciates the fact that we know what we’re doing”. We just delivered the ninth project of the Staluppi’s with Mulder Design.
The reputation Mulder Design generated in the early days of the industry for their ability to build quite literally the world’s fastest private luxury vessels is something that still hasn’t entirely faded today. As Bas explains, “Speed is still an important thing. Many people just want a displacement boat, however we decided from the input that we received from the market that quite a lot people actually want to go faster than displacement speed, so that’s why we invested a lot of time researching hull improvements to create a High speed cruising hull. That was done with the knowledge we have from ultra-fast boats; if we scale this down and make it a nice package, you’re able to build a lighter boat without sacrificing on comfort and quality, but still go over the standard displacement speed, a win-win.”
Ready for another decade with groundbreaking performance and stunning iconic designs!
Happy 40th anniversary!