Graduate of the NZ MAC ITO, Kit Carlier has taken his boatbuilding qualification and run with it. Receiving two boat building certificates in 2002, Kit now has his own company and a list of prestigious brands which he’s lent his talent to, under his belt.
With the new Level 6 Diploma in Marine Design & Draughting just approved by NZQA to commence development and set to be ready for use by the end of the year, we thought it a good time to look back on where a boatbuilding apprenticeship takes students.
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to design boats. I spent my childhood producing copious drawings of boats, and at about the age of ten began trawling the Trade and Exchange looking for a project to work on. It was also at about this age that I was advised by a Naval Architect that if I wanted to be a successful yacht designer I should become a boat builder first, so I spent my Christmas holidays working at a boat yard, being given the bum jobs and occasionally being paid in thick-shakes.
At the age of 15, and two years too young, I applied to the Unitec two-year Marine Technology course, and managed to convince them to accept me. I thrived on the course modules which covered all aspects of boatbuilding, the first year being focussed on building and the second year on design.
On completion of the course I went on to serve my time as an apprentice, and qualified in wooden and composite boat building. The following nine years were spent working my way to senior boat builder, leading hand, and project manager. The highlights for me during these years of building included being involved in high-tech resin infusion of superyacht superstructures, the production of the classic Logan 33, and deciphering the start-up production of Toyota 37, export boats for Japan. The Toyota project required almost 100 hour weeks, but the feeling of accomplishment was awesome – it was like achieving the impossible.
In 2007 I moved to the UK with my wife and took up the position of Production Manager at a 5-axis facility that produced a really varied range of products including marine form work, custom art installations, and movie sets including ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and ‘The Golden Compass’. It was here that I had my first taste of Rhino 3d modelling, which was all that was needed to direct me back towards my childhood dream of yacht design.
After a year back in New Zealand, a new baby, and boatbuilding work drying up with the financial crisis well underway, we decided we had nothing to lose, sold everything and headed to the Gold Coast where I took up the position of sole interior designer at Mustang Marine. This was my dream job and I was gutted when, only three months in, Mustang went in to voluntary liquidation and I was left to find something new. After a brief stint in Vietnam consulting to a production yard, we were back to New Zealand where I spent three years with Alloy Yachts as an interior designer. Working on the stunning yachts that Alloy produced was surreal at times, and my knowledge of interior design went from strength to strength. During this time I also founded Odyssey Yacht Design with an Australian designer and good friend, and we had a great time producing superyacht and military designs and travelling the world to boat shows.
In May 2014 I decided the time was right to do what I had always wanted to do, and I started Kit Carlier Design. Our fantastic small team provides interior and exterior styling, 3D modelling and rendering, procurement, and a complete consulting service. It is a busy and exciting time.
My journey from boat building to design has taken me all over the world, challenged me in some unexpected ways, but most of all it has given me a thorough understanding of the industry and an ability to visualize the design and build process, and take a project from concept to finished product. I could not recommend a better path to becoming a marine designer, and I echo the advice that was given to me all those years ago.