Australian Interior Design Specialists Meeting Market Needs | MaryAnne Edwards, GMBA New Zealand & Australia

Part three – Women in the Australian Industry

Maryanne Edwards GMBA consultant recently interviewed 2 Australian based women – Sarah Egan, Boat style and Angela Burlizzi, Analu asking for their opinions on how they are driving their businesses in the current environment. Both women offer a range of interior design services to the Australian and global marine industry. Both have been in business for many years and have an in depth understanding of the industry and their clients desire for style and functionality. Successfully turning customer design briefs into reality has become a passion for both these women.

Traveling overseas at least once a year, staying in luxury accommodation and eating at the best restaurants was a passion for many and afforded by a large group of Australians and international clients. This lost experience due to the current pandemic has translated into increasing numbers of people buying boats, refitting an existing boat or depending on budgets simply upgrading furnishings on the family boat.

"Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak."

The trend to upgrade interior fixtures and fittings has now become de rigieure in the current climate. This has led to a boom in work for Sarah and Angela who have carved out their niche in the market and built a solid reputation both in Australia and globally over the past decade.

Both have been regulars on the international boat show circuit.

“The two-best pieces of advice I have ever received have been creating my own label and expanding into the marine industry. Having a brand has enabled me to express my creativity and our business to have a point of difference, expanding internationally. That is particularly relevant in an era where internet has made all other brands readily accessible to everyone.”

Angela Burlizzi has owned Sydney based Analu since 2003, creating bespoke interiors for elite vessels and private residences. Due to her extensive experience in the high end of the luxury market Analu has built a strong reputation and brand presence in the industry.

 Whether it be a new build, refit or restyle Burlizzi and her team guide their clients through selecting the most fitting and stylish interior items to ensure the space is both aesthetically pleasing and functional.

The best piece of advice I have ever received “Choose what you love, do it well and solve your customer’s problems”

Sarah Egan is the owner of Boat Style, a yacht interior design company established in 2010.  Boat Style utilises a global supplier network and team of talented craftsmen and contractors to deliver Boat Style’s luxury goods and custom design services.

 As Sarah states on her website “Boat Style translates your ideas into reality. Since 2010, Boat Style has worked with luxury yachts and superyachts throughout Asia, Pacific and the Mediterranean.


Q1. The value of Boat Shows

Both women have a strong view on the value of Boat Shows to their business and see boat shows as critical to building personal relationships and driving their business forward.  Both in the past have been regulars at Monaco, METS and key boat shows in the Pacific Region. Sadly, the requirement to quarantine in a hotel for 2 weeks on return to Australia at a cost of $3k pp is a major deterrent to any Australians currently attending boat shows. Both are members of Superyacht Australia and are positive about their links to this Australian Industry body and their presence at International trade shows.

Q2. What are the key changes you have had to make in your business during this pandemic to survive and thrive

Angela, “The past 12 months have been so busy with local demand that we have not had the need to make any drastic changes.”
Sarah, “Our design work is deeply personal and seeks to imbue a lifestyle rather than just a current trend or look. The biggest adjustment during COVID is how we now communicate with our clients and contractors. As we increasingly deliver design projects remotely, the challenge is to relate how something looks and feels when you don’t have face-to-face contact. We have become creative with video conferencing and visualisation tools such as digital mood boards, technical drawings and photorealistic renders. Seeing and touching textiles and finishes is powerful, so we compile comprehensive story boards of samples, images and renders and deliver these to the client.”

Q3. The world is now shaped by technology change, social media, consumer expectations and hyper connectivity how have you embraced these factors to develop your business.

Angela, “We are striving to accelerate the process to update our website and digital presence. However, I find it challenging for a small, hands-on business like ours to allocate the required financial and time resources to develop the high-quality presence I feel our business deserves. Nevertheless, it has become imperative to feature products & projects through social media, to engage with clients and maximise business exposure at the fast pace of current times.

Sarah, “We’ve recently completed 2 major superyacht refits for Australian owners in the Mediterranean, without ever stepping aboard. Utilising only photo images, GA plans and lots of video walk throughs, we’ve been able to clearly interpret the owners’ vision and translate our design concepts into successful outcomes. It’s both challenging and rewarding.

Q4. Many stakeholders tell me that customer expectations have changed since the start of the pandemic and everyone has to work harder to achieve customer satisfaction or over deliver have you experienced this and how do you address it.

Angela We experience it in basically all the projects we work on. Customers have higher expectations, anticipating a fast response almost 24/7. However, I find that since the start of Covid clients have also become a little bit more relaxed. They seem not to “stress” as much when things take longer than planned or there are unforeseen situations needing addressing.” 

Sarah, “Personalised, ‘above and beyond’ customer service is one of our hallmarks. The same expectations for quality still exist, it simply takes more time and energy to deliver them during a pandemic. 

Q5. Many businesses say that they now must think more locally than globally given the many covid restrictions and border closures.  You both have aspects of your business that are global and local – has the mix changed.  Have you refocused your business offering in any way to meet customer needs/expectations

Angela, “Since the start of Covid, our business has organically focused more on the domestic market, driven by the strong local demand? Clients’ expectations are very high, and projects have a super tight time frame, requiring our upmost attention to execute and deliver the job to highest level of details.”

Sarah’ “Many foreign flag superyachts have found safety in Australian waters during COVID, however, without owners onboard, the impetus to do more than basic maintenance is not there. On the upside, the local Australian yacht market is on fire, with people seeing yacht charter and ownership as providing the perfect opportunity to get away when overseas holidays are not an option. I’ve seen a shift in the mindset of how Australian owners are using their yachts and a change in demographic with a younger generation now yachting. I’m currently working with several next gen’, first time yacht owners. Their pragmatic approach is a breath of fresh air, as they seek authentic experiences free of the burden of traditional boating mores. They want spaces that embody a sleek and modern aesthetic with a pared down style. With many manufacturers operating well below full capacity for the past 18 months, product supply levels are critically low in several sectors. This has led to price increases and extended lead times. Freight delays and a dramatic increase in the tariffs for airfreight, have driven the cost of delivering our projects up and caused many a sleepless night tracking consignments. Wherever possible I source local materials and several colleagues are now pooling regularly used items.

Q6. What is your view of the current Australia marine industry and where do you see the opportunities/threats if the borders remain closed

Angela, “As in every situation, there are two sides of a medal. So far, the border closure has delivered an extraordinarily strong demand in Australia. People have seen yachting as a great alternative to travelling and have invested their financial resources in this sector, keeping the money in the country. New vessels have been purchased and old vessels refitted. They will require ongoing maintenance, marina facilities, supplies and services for the benefit of all. It is a market that has grown in numbers and value and is there to stay. On the other hand, the inability to travel may lead to a slowdown in R&D and product innovation and the weakening of trade relationships, with possible consequences particularly for local companies highly dependent on export.”

Sarah, “I believe there’s an outstanding opportunity for superyachts from Asia and the Northern Hemisphere to cruise and undertake maintenance within ‘A South Pacific Bubble’. Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tahiti, the Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga offer some of the world’s most extraordinary and largely unexplored cruising grounds. Our aim should be keenly focused on promoting the region as a safe haven, an oasis with world-class service facilities and iconic destinations. Vaccination and quarantining requirements will be key to the success of such a strategy and warrants a collaborative marketing response from our industry and governments in the region.”

For further information
Maryanne Edwards
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