Espen Øino: I want to be King!

Making radical design his signature is in large part what made Espen famous. People go to him for bold projects that will be talked about for years, and the impressive list of superyachts that he has already created is unlikely to be surpassed by any of the designers living and working today
Feb 29 2024 • by Victoria Struts 4 minutes to read
Sketch of the future yacht for Silver Yachts

When people asked him “Who do you want to be?” in his early childhood, he used to answer: “King!”

But on realizing that this job in Norway was no longer vacant and taken by Olaf V, he found his true vocation in yachting, which is so popular in his native country that even the King was an Olympic champion in sailing.

The 136-meter Flying Fox superyacht (Lürssen, 2019)
136-meter Flying Fox superyacht (Lürssen, 2019)

 Together with his brothers the boy helped his father to build boats at a small family shipyard, and as he grew, he had no doubts about which profession to choose. Espen headed for Scotland to get a degree in naval architecture and engineering from the University of Strathclyde.

Sketch of the future yacht for Silver Yachts
Sketch of a future yacht for Silver Yachts

He wanted to specialize in sailboats, so after he got his degree, he found a job at Martin Francis London studio, which designed only sailing boats. But right at that time there came an order to build a motor vessel, and Espen did a great job. Inspired by this success after some time he decided to found a studio of his own, and not just somewhere, but on the Cote d'Azur, as he had always liked the Mediterranean. 

The 71-meter superyacht Skat (Lürssen, 2002)
70.7-meter Skat superyacht (Lürssen, 2002)

He chose Monaco to be the home base for his Espen Øino International. The first order was a motor boat again. The exterior of the 70.7-metre Skat, which was launched by German Lürssen in 2002 had a bombshell effect for the industry. It was not just extravagant. It looked so defiant that his colleagues’ opinions got radically divided: some applauded the bold debutant, others called him a hack and predicted the imminent end to his business. Øino made a good use of this fame, turning radical design into his “signature feature” that found numerous fans, and he has never been short of orders  since. 

The 71-meter superyacht Skat (Lürssen, 2002)
70.7-meter Skat superyacht (Lürssen, 2002)

Now there are 17 people of different nationalities and backgrounds in his team, and his portfolio features not only boats, but civil architecture projects and even some interior design items. But his life’s work is still custom naval design, and his status of a world star in this area is no longer challenged. 

The 136-meter Flying Fox superyacht (Lürssen, 2019)
136-meter Flying Fox superyacht (Lürssen, 2019)

Quite on the contrary, there is a joking phrase in the yachting milieu: “If you want your boat to be truly unique, go to Espen!”. Although he is keen on masculine, military style exteriors and superstructures of futuristics shapes, he doesn’t shy away from classical lines, and in his contemporary interpretation they all turn out to be both spectacular and functional.

The 90-meter superyacht DreAMBoat (Oceanco, 2019)
90-meter DreAMBoat superyacht (Oceanco, 2019)

Some of his landmark projects are the REV (182.9 m), the Octopus (126 m), the Dilbar (156 m), the Ocean Victory (140 m), the Flying Fox (136 m), the Serene (134 m), the Kismet (95 m), the DreAMBoat (90 m), the Silverfast  (77 m), the Solandge (85 m), the Bold explorer (85 m). All in all, there are 11 of his boats in the list of 101 world’s largest yachts. Although he does not  design super and megayachts only, but equally luxurious tenders for them, too. 

The 182.9-meter explorer REV Ocean claims to be the largest yacht in the world (Vard, 2026)
The 182.9-meter REV Ocean claims to be the largest yacht in the world (Vard, 2026)

 Among the major shipyards that are proud of collaboration with Espen Øino there is Abeking & Rasmussen, Amels, Delta Marine, Fincantieri, Heesen, Lürssen, Nobiskrug, Oceanco, Silver Yachts, Vard, Viareggio Superyachts.

The 60-meter superyacht Come Together (Amels, 2022)
60-meter Come Together superyacht (Amels, 2022)

Ironically, there was not a single sailboat in Espen Øino’s portfolio. But he did become the king, and is rightfully dubbed “the king of yachting design”. 

Espen Øino stands on the bulbous bow of the 72,1-metre superyacht Stella Maris (VSY, 2013)
Espen Øino on the bulbous bow of the 72,1-metre Stella Maris superyacht (VSY, 2013)
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Victoria Struts
Victoria Struts
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