Anouska Hempel's Beluga 1: A Legendary Sailing Boat

Anouska Hempel, the renowned designer also known as Lady Weinberg, finds herself caught in a sudden downpour while aboard her magnificent sailing boat. Her crew of dashing deckhands hurriedly make preparations to shield her from...

Anouska Hempel, the renowned designer also known as Lady Weinberg, finds herself caught in a sudden downpour while aboard her magnificent sailing boat. Her crew of dashing deckhands hurriedly make preparations to shield her from the rain, showcasing the less glamorous side of owning a boat, even in the Mediterranean. Nevertheless, the true beauty lies in the 28-meter-long Beluga 1 itself, a traditional wooden gulet that Anouska lovingly acquired fifteen years ago in Bodrum, Turkey.

The lights, cushions, and runners on the seats in this salon by the bridge are all by Anouska Hempel Design. The tan leather plates are by Ralph Lauren. The baskets and trunks are antiques. Photo: Will Pryce The lights, cushions, and runners on the seats in this salon by the bridge are all by Anouska Hempel Design. The tan leather plates are by Ralph Lauren. The baskets and trunks are antiques. Photo: Will Pryce

Sailing with Serenity

The process of restoring and renovating the Beluga 1 took over a year, with the ongoing task of caring for a wooden boat demanding constant attention. However, the effort has paid off, as the Beluga 1 has become a coveted classic, easily recognizable with its striking black sails. From Seville to Istanbul and the Amalfi Coast, this remarkable vessel can be hired, complete with a hand-picked crew, for unforgettable summer adventures. Anouska herself manages to spend only about two weeks aboard each year, a testament to its popularity.

Anouska defies the trends favored by her peers who opt for sleek speedboats. Her choice is rooted in her own gypsy-like nature. She prefers "a beautiful, big, wooden [boat]" that allows her to create her own environment and enjoy a slower pace. The interior design of the Beluga 1 reflects her desire to remove modern encroachments, with hidden lights and switches and a focus on functional beauty. Even in the kitchen, every detail is considered, such as wooden-rimmed sinks to prevent chipping and easily sliding baskets.

In this dining area on the aft deck, the chairs are from a gentleman’s club in Mumbai. The cushions are by Anouska Hempel Design. Photo courtesy Anouska Hempel Design In this dining area on the aft deck, the chairs are from a gentleman’s club in Mumbai. The cushions are by Anouska Hempel Design. Photo courtesy Anouska Hempel Design

Embracing Change with Elegance

Working on a boat instead of a hotel was a natural choice for Anouska. She believes that as long as everything is in its place and secure, maintaining a boat simply requires common sense. And of course, innate style is also essential. Below deck, the transformation of small cabins into exquisite rooms showcases the dominance of wood. Yet, the highlight of the Beluga 1 is the spacious aft deck, adorned with an awning stretching its width and an abundance of divans and cushions, providing the perfect spot to relax and enjoy breathtaking views.

During the interview, Anouska was preparing for the boat's fifth makeover, focusing on a change in color scheme from ginger to saffron. With her discerning eye for detail, she plans to design an Asian-inspired menu to match the new interior. However, Anouska's creative impulses may lead to yet another transformation in a couple of years. She humorously suggests that mustard will be replaced by wasabi, accompanied by a corresponding adjustment to the menu.

The quilt on the bed in the stateroom is from Japan and the cushions are from France; the blind is made from an opium mat from Thailand, and is held up by Syrian horse straps. Photo courtesy Anouska Hempel Design The quilt on the bed in the stateroom is from Japan and the cushions are from France; the blind is made from an opium mat from Thailand, and is held up by Syrian horse straps. Photo courtesy Anouska Hempel Design

A Visionary with Unyielding Passion

Known for her impeccable style, Anouska Hempel possesses a sharp intellect and an unwavering work ethic. She has no patience for mediocrity, especially when it comes to diluting her exacting vision. Her humor, at times biting, adds an intriguing layer to her personality. Anouska embraces opportunities to utilize her talent beyond the higher end of the market. Whether it's transforming an old tanker into a student hotel or lending her name to a project, she seeks wild and wonderful endeavors, always adding her unique touch of amusement and creativity.

Anouska is aware that her ideas may be copied, but she remains Zen-like in her attitude towards the re-appropriation of her work. She understands that the moment she opens a hotel, she exposes herself to the world, both ordinary and extraordinary. Her design firm, Anouska Hempel Design, with its team of 30 professionals, currently undertakes various projects, including apartment blocks, hotels, restaurants, palaces, and large gardens. Two exciting openings are on the horizon: Blakes Singapore, continuing the boutique hotel legacy, and the Franklin in Knightsbridge, London.

When asked about the driving force behind her relentless workload, Anouska dismisses the notion of being bored. She believes that life is too full of wonder and endless possibilities to ever feel bored. With a steady hand and grace, Anouska navigates through life, just as she sails the vast seas on her beloved Beluga 1.

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