INTERVIEW: Final year Coventry University student triumphs during 62nd London Boat Show

Dastinas Steponenas, final year Transport Design student from Coventry University, bagged first place in Superyacht UK Young Designer Competition 2016. The competition took place on Thursday, 14th January and was a part of 62nd London Boat Show at ExCeL London.

Being one of 10 students from participating UK universities, Dastinas had to create his project from scratch, live, during the show. His victory has not only given him the title of Superyacht UK Young Designer but has also given him a four-week internship at Pendennis Shipyard in Falmouth.

Reporter Natalia Kaluza spoke to Dastinas in the wake of his achievement.


iCov: Hello, firstly, congratulations on winning the award! How do you feel now?

Dastinas Steponenas: Hello, I feel great, thank you. It’s a completely amazing experience. It is great to be rewarded after many sleepless nights of developing all these skills that brought me success in that competition.

iCov: So how did you start designing?

Dastinas: I started in fine arts school, where we used to have up to 15 hours of different art subjects a week. My first design attempts were there during graphic design tasks.

iCov: How did you get interest in yacht designing then?

Dastinas: I’m studying Transport Design at Coventry University and had one attempt in a yacht project as a part of my module. I got seriously into yachts and boats only last year. I feel like yacht designing is a bigger challenge. My hunger for challenges and willing to become better and more skillful as designer led me to chose yacht design.

iCov: For those of us who are not too familiar, could you explain a little bit more the aim of competition you recently won?

Dastinas: The main goal of Superyacht UK Young Designer Competition is to provide final year design students an opportunity to be noticed by famous and experiences yacht industry representatives, get feedback from them and increase the knowledge abut the industry. Another reason it that technology takes over and there are less people able to make free-hand drawings, and that skill is very important while meeting customers face to face. You can quickly show them ideas, even if it has to be on a napkin!

iCov: How long were you preparing for this competition?

Dastinas: I haven’t prepared especially for that competition. That is what I do constantly, and I believe a real designer should be able to design even when woken up in the middle of the night. You never know when an idea or inspiration may pop to your mind and you have to be able to capture it before it’s gone.

iCov: What was the most challenging?

Dastinas: The most challenging thing was the brief: meeting client’s wishes (who likes 20th century classic yacht, but is also keen on McLaren cars), different design languages, that was like two complete opposites that have to match in one final design.

iCov: Was it hard to start the project from scratch live, during the event?

Dastinas: For that reason everything was supposed to be hand-drawn. That is a little bit challenging itself, because completely different than using computer where you can make a step back. Also, short period of time forced to make everything pretty much right at the first attempt. The drawing had to be well thought and had to cover as many different aspects as possible as there were no drafts and the actual work time was only 9 hours overall. And no, starting sketch from scratch itself is not that hard if you have rough specification, a direction where to go.

iCov: We’ve heard part of the award is an internship at Pendennis Shipyard in Falmouth. Are you excited for that?

Dastinas: Yes it is, and yes I am really excited. That’s another opportunity to experience and get to know another company, to see how it works and what are their values. That’s also a chance to live again in completely new place. That’s all about collecting experiences and increasing knowledge in order to become better designer and person.


It’s not Dastinas’ first success. He also triumphed with 3rd place at Monaco Yacht Show in September 2015. Now he looks forward to his internship over the summer, after graduation.

Natalia Kaluza

Photograph Courtesy Of OnEdition and Superyacht UK

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