My wife, Lucy, and I have owned boats for over a decade, Alora is our third and we’ve had her for 10 years. We commissioned her to be built from our own design and have a mooring at Cadogan Pier in Chelsea.
Because we’ve owned boats before, we knew exactly what we wanted, so Alora is designed to be more spacious than most boats. We kept the lines very simple and the interior is made from English oak. The ship’s lighting is very different to the elaborate displays I create in my work; I’ve kept it understated but elegant. Light is my world, and so I want my designs to be as beautiful as possible.
The wheelhouse is particularly special, it has 360-degree views and the roof can be removed on nice days. The marquetry is beautiful and the flooring is built from wood that once belonged to the Cutty Sark. I was helping to renovate the ship and there was some decking that couldn’t be reused, so I asked for it. When I’m in the wheelhouse, I’m standing on what was the actual deck of the Cutty Sark, it’s a very special legacy.
I travel a lot, but Alora has a key place in my heart because of the association with the 2012 Olympics. I spent three months living on her in the lead up to the games and it was the most stressful time of my whole career. Everyone was worried the Olympics were doomed to failure. After the opening ceremony, which went better than anyone expected, I came back to the boat with more relief than I’ve ever felt in my life.
I love living on the Thames, you’re at the very heart of London and everything goes on around you. My favourite moments are things like sitting with friends in the wheelhouse at night, looking at the lights of Battersea Bridge, which is the most beautifully lit bridge in London. I love feeling the pull of the tide, waking to a sunrise over Battersea Power Station or setting off at 6am to take a trip up-river.
Lucy and I are now moving to Battersea Power Station, but there are lots of aspects about Alora I’ll miss. Living on a boat on the Thames is a statement, it’s a commitment to a different way of life.