Camper’s boat, designed by Farrow

The boat that shoe brand Camper will sail around the world in the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012 recently sailed into London, showcasing in the process, its livery and sails – designed by Farrow. Here is a look at the boat and also an insight into Farrow’s approach to the project…

Yesterday, the boat that shoe brand Camper will sail around the world in the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012, sailed into London, showcasing in the process, its livery and sails which have been designed by Farrow here in London. Here is a look at the boat and a also an insight into Farrow’s approach to the project…

“The project came about because we received an email, out of the blue from Camper just over a year ago,” says Mark Farrow of the project. “It was obviously exciting, but they were asking three different design agencies to come up with ideas. We were instantly like, well, we don’t pitch, it’s just not something that we do. They then said – and I suppose it’s an obvious line – ‘don’t think of it as a pitch but more like Camper trying to find a kindred spirit to work with – and we’ll pay you for your ideas’.

“So it’s one of those where it’s a great brand you’d like to work with,” Farrow continues, “firstly because its shops are really good looking and the people they collaborate with are great – and secondly, it’s obviously a really great project. It’s a really cool thing to do, it’s a dream job. So we put aside a week where we’d do nothing but come up with lots of ideas about how we could approach this, and then flew to Camper’s HQ in Majorca to present the ideas.”

The image above shows some of Farrow’s early ideas, playing with simple, bold graphics, from minimal use of colour through to patterns and yes, even a playful jolly roger skull and crossbones. Note the blue iteration of the Camper logo, created when Farrow realised that the logo shape could be inverted and repeated side by side to create a wave-like shape.

“One of the things they were really good about with regard to the first presentation,” says Farrow’s Debra Scacco, “is that they said that we shouldn’t concern ourselves with anything other than what we think looks good. So it was a bit like forget the technical restrictions, they simply wanted us to have fun with it and do what we thought would look amzing, in order to see what emerged. That was a really great starting point for us to have no restrictions or inhibitions.”

“They liked a lot of our ideas,” says Farrow, “but many of them wouldn’t have worked in reality. More than anything with this approach we were able to say, we’re not  suggesting you should have a boat with a skull and crossbones on it, what we’re saying is this is the way we think, this is how we could potentially have fun with this.”

“At this first presentation stage, we were treating the project very much with our idea of yachting, which was a nice day out on the sea,” adds Farrow’s Gary Stillwell. “We hadn’t got to grips with the technicalities of it or got to grips with what this race actually involves. So it was only after this that we really understood that it was an extreme sport. So an initial design with coloured beach balls adorning the sails looks pretty funny in retrospect!”

“We did have a bit of Eureka moment when we realised that Camper’s logo is actually shaped like a sail,” says Farrow. “And if you turn it upside down, make it blue and repeat it horizontally, you get waves. Air and water, everything we need, are built into the logo without even doing anything. We even suggested to Camper that they created another version of the logo which was upside down and blue, the sailing version of the Camper logo if you like. We got really excited about this but they weren’t as enthusiastic.”

“But we started showing them some iterations of the idea,”  Farrow continues. “The idea had allowed us to do some nice stuff and we were using a lot of blue at this point in our design ideas. Then Camper pointed out that, well, it’s going to disappear when it’s on the sea and we had to concede that, yeah, it probably will. Whereas a red boat won’t disappear on the sea, quite the opposite.

We’d been thinking about making a reference to dazzle ships, breaking up the outline of the boat. Of course the crew and the guys at Camper couldn’t understand why we’d want to make the boat look any less sleek and beautiful than it does normally. But we made this repeat pattern from the logo (above) that was kind of jagged but flowing at the same time and that’s really the starting point to where we ended up.”

Above and below: The guys at Farrow made numerous paper models to work out how their hull designs would wrap around the boat

The sails are made out of woven kevlar (below) and the designs are actually applied either by hand dying or painting. Of course the more paint applied to a sail, the heavier it is, so that was a crucial factor when creating the final sail designs.

Knowing that there are a host of different sails which are used according to prevalent weather conditions, Farrow created a different design for each one. A particular favourite is the one in which the repeat pattern that features on another sail looks as if it is being blown away:

Here are the various sail designs:

Mainsail and Jib 1

Mainsail and Jib 2

Mainsail and Frac 0

Reefed Mainsail and Jib 4

Mainsail and MH0

Mainsail, Jib 1 and A2

To keep up to date with the Camper boat’s story, visit its Facebook page


Related content

London based studio GBH designed the livery for Puma’s entry to the Volvo Ocean Race. Read our post about that here

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