26 North talks with Destry Darr Pethtel President of Destry Darr Designs, Inc.
Destry Darr Pethtel is a Florida native who grew up in the luxury yacht world. Her company, Destry Darr Designs specializes in comprehensive yacht interior design. Based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Destry Darr Designs works locally, nationally and internationally to develop custom high-end interiors for a variety of clients on their privately owned yachts and with prestigious, world-known yacht builders.
Q. How long have you been working as an interior designer for Luxury Yachts?
A. My father was a yacht broker, so I basically grew up in the yacht industry. I was around mega yachts and boat shows at a very early age, and I took a great interest and just absorbed everything I could. Yachts really became my first love! I graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Interior Design, and knew that I would apply that to luxury yachts. Before I started Destry Designs, I refined my skills as an interior designer for three different world class, well known yacht interior design firms.
Q. What do you think is your greatest strength as a designer?
A. Creativity, first and foremost, creativity. But, all designers have to be creative by nature. What I strive to do, and really pride myself on, is my ability to understand the needs and desires of my clients and transform that into the final design. Also, analytical thinking and being very detailed oriented, these are extremely important when designing interiors for luxury motor yachts.
Q. How does “interior design” for motor yachts differ from residential design? I am sure it requires some of the same skills, but then again somethings very unique as well, your thoughts?
A. Yacht design is very analytical and requires “left brain” skills, as well as the creative and artistic “right” side. You need an attention to detail well beyond aesthetics. You are going to run into technical and structural restrictions on a yacht that you just do not encounter in residential interior design. These issues, like it or not constrict aesthetics. The challenge is to analyze, and look for the problems before they happen, and fix them before they become critical. Yachts give me a challenge every day. Although I enjoy residential design as well, it is not nearly as stimulating or challenging as yacht design.
Q. Along those same lines then, what is it that distinguishes you from other designers in the field?
A. I believe that growing up in this industry and, immediately out of college going to work for yacht interior designers, gave me an edge. Another distinguishing factor is that I am a formally educated, licensed interior designer. Many people are fast and loose with the terms “Interior Designer” and “Interior Decorator.” The terms are sometimes used synonymously, but these careers differ in critical ways. Interior design is a more specialized career field, requiring a certain combined level of education, work experience and licensing. The interior design process follows a systematic and coordinated methodology including research, analysis and integration of knowledge into the creative process in order to satisfy the needs and budget of the client. Decorators furnish interior spaces with furniture and accessories, creating an aesthetic environment. As an Interior Designer, I am certified on many levels and have obtained, through my education, a wide range of technical skills needed to provide a full range of interior design services to augment natural artistic talent. Decorating is an important aesthetic part of the overall design package, but represents a mere fraction of what goes into taking a design from concept to completion.
Q. Do you work on both new and used boats?
A. Yes, I specialize in new construction and refits of motor yachts.
Q. In addition to financial rewards, of course, how else has your career as designer created value in your life?
A. I think that anyone who has achieved a certain level of success in his or her career, needs to give something back to the community. I have had the opportunity to give back by donating my design services to veterans. Also, for the last 7 years, I have donated my time and talent by coordinating and decorating for one of my children’s school’s largest fundraisers.
Q. What is your most significant accomplishment as a designer?
A. Designing the 120’ Nordhavn “Aurora” and that boat being nominated for numerous interior design awards including The World Superyachts Awards 2014 and The International Yacht & Aviation Awards 2014.
Q. Can you share an anecdote that details one of the most rewarding moments in your design career?
A. One of my Clients had a friend who was also building a boat. This friend was having countless problems. While on board his friend’s boat, my client called me and asked why I don’t have any problems on my projects. I replied by saying that of course we have problems, however, we solve them before they manifest themselves. Every project has problems. The trick is to fix them before it becomes necessary to involve the client, allowing the client to enjoy the process of building a boat. Seeing a client’s face and receiving their praise and appreciation when they walk on board their boat and see the completed project, is very satisfying. Being able to spend my working years doing something I love and being acknowledged for my efforts by my clients and peers is most rewarding for me.
Q. Tell us a little about your life outside of work, and how do you manage to juggle your personal life with such a busy career?
A. I love to spend time with my family and I love to entertain. I have a passion for cooking and working out. I also enjoy working on my own personal interior and exterior home improvements. Because I am one of those who has been truly blessed to be living my passion, my career is no longer “work” to me. My love of design, love of the business, and a committed and efficient staff and family allows me to have both. But, I also know and respect my priorities and limits. I couldn’t do it all without my family. My husband is also my business partner. We are very busy at work and at home with our 8 & 11 year old boys. We have a lot of local family who help us with our children. Owning our own business and having such an efficient staff, helps us to be very flexible, and being well managed, there is enough time for personal life and a career.
Q. We talked a little bit about how you started as a designer, and where you are presently. Where are you going? Where would you like to see yourself and your company 5, 10 years from now?
A. We are constantly growing and working on new, larger, and more innovative projects that allow our team to express their creativity. In the next 5 years I would like to see that our success and experience will give our company a familiarity factor to always be considered for the top shelf projects in the industry. Because of the economic downturn, we have sadly lost the major American boat builders, and others are on the edge. Right now, big boats are being built in Europe and Asia. Although I am happy to have so much experience with Asian builders, 10 years from now I am hopeful that American yacht builders will have returned and be flourishing again which will bring more jobs for all of the American specialty contractors and designers.