Although attendance was reportedly down only seven percent from last year, the 2003 Miami International Boat Show was described by many attendees as “relatively quiet.” Some attributed this to the uncertain economy, others to the heightened terror alert, and still others to the unresolved situation with Iraq.
Regardless, one place that was not quiet and where business was normal and then some was the booth of IK Yacht Design, known for furnishings that offer style and stowage for boats of all sizes. It was here that I met Zak Kadosh, the company’s founder, president, and design mastermind. And an interesting meeting it was.
Roughly 20 people stopped by during my short time there, some former clients dropping by to say hello, others browsing Kadosh’s famous furniture-with-a-twist. Although he says he’s completed thousands of projects, he still remembers his clients by name and seems unfazed by his near-celebrity status. Judging from his constant ear-to-ear smile and easygoing attitude, you’d never suspect his perfectionist tendencies or the efficient way he attacks all his design projects.
Kadosh says he’s loved the water since day one, and his design background extends nearly as far back. He recalls following his father—an architect and designer—to various projects, where he learned how to visualize a concept and imagine it transform from a simple drawing into a finished, aesthetically pleasing piece. He attended the University of Tel Aviv, graduating with a degree in interior design and, after serving three years in Israel’s navy, was more than ready to get back into his interior design career and combine it with his love of the water. And so, that same year, Kadosh moved to South Florida and started his own business as an interior decorator for yachts of all sizes.
In 2000 Kadosh moved the company, now in its 20th-plus year of operation, to its current location in Dania, Florida. With the surrounding Harbor Towne Marina and docking facilities directly outside its 10,000-square-foot showroom (plus a 6,000-square-foot workshop), IK Yacht Design has also become famous as a “drive-thru” facility: People can literally stop, dock, and shop. Even better, people can “test” any of the products sold on the showroom floor; if they don’t like it or feel it doesn’t fit, they can bring it back inside and try something else until they get a look they’re happy with.
“I’m always striving for the perfect, designer look,” says Kadosh, “but most importantly I want my clients to be happy. If they are not happy, I have not done my job right.” To get that “perfect look,” he travels around the world, to design shows in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and elsewhere, looking for ideas.
Part 2: Most impressive is the Kadosh-designed furniture that looks like regular furniture yet serves two functions.
Kadosh is just as concerned with onboard space utilization as he is with style and appearance, and his showroom—or “the library,” as he refers to it—clearly reflects his knack for innovative design and stowage concepts. Most impressive is the Kadosh-designed furniture that looks like regular furniture yet serves two functions. As Kadosh’s sister and assistant, Orna Grimmett, escorted me around the Dania showroom, she pointed out what looked to be a standard teak deck chair. But by simply folding down its upright portion, I effortlessly transformed it into a coffee table.
All of the stylish and luxurious Ultraleather sofas, chairs, and ottomans have hidden stowage compartments. The couch and chair cushions and the lid of the ottoman lift to reveal stowage bins, while other chairs have hidden drawers. Other products here include original Guy Harvey oil paintings, bronze statues and tables designed by Dale Evers, lamps, basic glassware, table linens, carpet and tile samples, salt and pepper shakers, napkin rings, bed and bath linens, candles, rugs, and more. Just about anything you would ever want to decorate your home with is sold for the marine set at Kadosh’s showroom.
Of course, owners can always leave the decorating to Kadosh and his team of designers and carpenters. Flipping through an album of his projects, which include a 46-foot Post, a 57-foot Viking, a 75-foot Feadship, and a 104-foot Broward, I ask, “So, these projects must take—what, a couple weeks?” “Not really,” says Kadosh, “most times we can do [refurnish] a yacht in one day, usually within two to three hours from start to finish,” noting that more intricate projects take longer. A job involving reupholstery of the furniture and new carpeting or flooring, for example, usually takes about ten to 15 days and can cost about $1,000 per square foot, depending on the size and scope of both the vessel and the project.
For typical, what he calls “fix-me-up,” projects, Kadosh meets with the clients to get an understanding of their tastes, then walks through the yacht with his design team to get an idea of which showroom items to place onboard to achieve the desired look. He sends the owners to lunch for a few hours, and when they return, all the changes have been made to their boat. If the owner is not completely satisfied, Kadosh and crew will redo the project until they get it right, no matter how long the process takes or the extent of the job.
Kadosh’s largest and most challenging project to date was the bow-to-stern refurbishment of the 100-foot dinner cruise ship Marika. Working alongside Kevin Kerwin, an experienced marine architect, Kadosh gutted parts of the boat and made major structural and interior changes, which included extending and enclosing the aft deck; adding new windows, stairwells, lighting, and even a new galley; and rewiring the electrical and air conditioning systems.
Kadosh says the most challenging aspect of the project was making sure all the structural changes were in compliance with U.S. Coast Guard regulations. True to his friendly and personable attitude, he says, “They [the Coast Guard] were an absolute pleasure to work with.” Marika is now used as a charter boat for weddings and parties. Courtesy of Kadosh, she features a fully functional galley with stainless steel appliances, large dance floor, bridal suite, and ladies’ and mens’ heads complete with marble countertops and tile floors.
There are presumably many more projects to come; based on the publicity he’s gotten for his showroom and furniture and his near-star status at the boat show, he’s created a real niche in marine interior design. With customers visiting from all over the world, furniture and gadgets for vessels of all sizes, and business continuing as usual in this time of economic uncertainty, it seems there’s no stopping this celebrity designer anytime soon.