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Jon Bannenberg (1929 in Australia – 2002 in London) was a yacht designer born in Australia, Bannenberg studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. In 1952 he moved to London and his career began to morph towards its final destination: from music to stage design to opening an interior design shop with his first wife and ultimately to designing yachts. In the 1960s he designed some of the interiors of the QEII. From the 1970s onwards he designed large yachts for clients such as Larry Ellison, Malcolm Forbes, Bennett S. LeBow, Adnan Khashoggi and Robert Maxwell
Bannenberg's innovative designs were sometimes controversial in the yachting community, provoking a "love it or hate it" response from many at the quayside. Yet today, "JB", as he was known, is much emulated, having inspired a generation of younger designers with his novel and functional arrangements and styling cues. In essence, Bannenberg introduced the latitude for the "stylist" in traditional shipbuilding, which until that time, followed conservative Post-WW2 practices.
As a rule, Bannenberg would style the vessel's exterior and interior, being responsible for the General Arrangement as well. He likened yachtbuilding to an "orchestra", requiring the talents of many and varied individuals. These would invariably include technical experts in naval architecture and engineering. Nevertheless, every "Bannenberg" clearly bore the stamp of its primary creator in terms of aesthetics, details and possibly most importantly - livestyle aboard.
Arguably the most striking of his futuristic designs began with the Oceanfast 2000 Never Say Never. This 122-foot (37 m) long vessel displayed not only shockingly futuristic aesthetics, but a totally unprecedented internal layout. Bannenberg and the Oceanfast shipyard (Perth, Australia) went on to create many impressive vessels including Mystique, Mercedes, Part V, and Sagitta.
Ultimately, Bannenberg worked with many of the world's best shipyards in Holland, Italy, Germany and England. At Brooke Yachts (Lowestoft, UK) a string of remarkable vessels were produced including Stefaren, G-Whiz, and JB's personal yacht, the sloop Beaupre. Ironically, while Bannenberg possessed the most distinctive "signature" in the business, no two vessels (barring sisterships) were ever alike.
While most of Bannenberg's vessels were powerboats, he was involved in many sailing projects, including Gee Dee, Garuda and many more. Still, vessels such as the 1971 "classic" Carinthia, and the 1997, 315-foot (96 m) Limitless, for American apparel maker Leslie Wexner, seem to be the most obvious legacy of Bannenberg. Other impressive vessels since his death have been attributed to Bannenberg, including the largest private yacht in the world at the time (2002), Larry Ellison's Rising Sun. The attribution is most notable, if not mysterious, because the vessel bears no resemblance to any earlier Bannenberg work. Then again, JB was legendary for his drive to try new things.
Bannenberg died of an inoperable Brain tumour at his home in London in 2002.
Bannenberg Designs continues to design yachts, under the direction of Jon's son Dickie Bannenberg and Creative Director Simon Rowell.