Alexander Fogg - the superyacht designer from Nantwich
PUBLISHED: 00:00 04 July 2017
Many people have struggled to build anything recognisable out of Lego as a child but it has helped Alexander Fogg to build a career, writes Paul Mackenzie.
The boats Alexander Fogg created with Lego when he was young are a far cry from the ones he designs now, but they were the building blocks upon which he hopes to launch a career.
The 23-year-old from Nantwich specialises in creating superyachts for the superrich and his design for an 80m trimaran won him a place in the finals of last year’s Young Designer of the Year competition.
After studying at universities in Southampton and Newcastle – both cities with a proud shipbuilding heritage – he is now completing a masters degree at Coventry which may not share that maritime tradition but does have a real engineering pedigree.
Alexander traces his love of boats to family holidays in Wales. ‘My dad had a power boat,’ Alexander said. ‘It was nothing like a superyacht but we’d spend a lot of time on the water and I knew from an early age that I wanted to work with boats.
‘I used to make boats out of Lego – I remember once making a cargo ship – and there was a clay boat I made once. That was at the caravan in Wales but it wasn’t much good, it had big curve in the middle.’
That’s not the sort of mistake he’d make now, but then he creates his designs on specialised computer programmes these days, not with multi-coloured plastic bricks, or modelling clay.
Those family holidays were taken at Abersoch with his dad Roger, a roadie for artists including the Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi and Madonna, his mum Anne, a fashion model, and his older brother Matthew who now works for a company which designs office interiors.
Alexander is now a qualified naval engineer working on the sort of boats that sell for hundreds of millions of pounds. He added: ‘Superyachts are bought by people with an awful lot of money. There are all kinds of different clients, some are bought by companies, others by families and others by oligarchs. The most expensive was sold for £800m but the price varies depending on the size and the spec. I have just finished designing an 80m yacht worth about £160m.
‘Superyachts are the most personal thing anyone will ever buy. There is no real need for one, they are completely objects of desire. They can be designed however a client wants – if you want pools, gyms and a helipad, you can have that, or almost anything else you want.
‘If you’re interested in having a new yacht built you would discuss the idea with a broker who would suggest some designers, then we’d sit down and chat through your requirements and what it would be used for, and I’d show you some designs. I’d then come up with a rough concept, then make any changes that are necessary.’
Once the design is finalised – a process that can take up to five months – there’s a three or four year wait while your superyacht is built.
There are a handful of shipyards in the UK that can provide re-fits but most new bespoke luxury boats are built in Germany or Holland these days, although there are shipyards in America, Australia and the Middle East too. The design, though, can happen anywhere. ‘I’m considering whether to start my own studio or to gain experience working abroad first,’ Alexander said.
‘I’ve always said I would like to be based at home in Cheshire, but I do want to travel and see the world as well. Most design studios are based in London, but that’s not too far away by train and it makes no sense to pay so much more to live in London when I could stay in Cheshire.’