Forty years ago, there were two young brothers, a cardiologist and an architect, with a shared love for boats and the sea. Today, there is a design office with twenty-five designers and engineers, a tooling/milling/prototyping operation with more than forty technicians, and over 360 production boat designs of 10 to 150 feet length, with more than 70,000 boats built based on these drawings, by some sixty-five boatbuilders in twenty-eight countries.
Not to mention the list of 121 “Boat of the Year” and design awards… a notable achievement even if we can’t help thinking, well, you know how it is, they have to give these awards to somebody, so I guess they’ll give them to us since they’ve already given them to everybody else… When looking at what led to this development, some credit must be given to us being at the right place at the right time (it seems that we always had luck on our side—and that we knew how to caress and respect her, keeping her close).
And there were other factors. Both us brothers have complementary talents— and an ability to work together closely that we’ve had since our youth, when we were dependent on each other.
Our parents gave us a rich and excellent upbringing. They stressed the importance of knowledge and work; that knowing many languages opens the doors to numerous cultures; and that fine arts are the fountain of creativity needed for any endeavor worth undertaking.
Our teachers were excellent—from primary school through high school and university.
We were lucky to be born in Slovenia, an environment where many different cultures meet—and where knowing (and having a curious and adaptive attitude towards) the languages and cultures of larger nations surrounding us is inscribed in our DNA.
We are both very thankful to Destiny that we’ve lived in an era of change with a capital C: born into a place without electricity or running water (but with horses and other animals), and now in a world governed by computers, mobile phones, internet, artificial intelligence, electric cars—and boats.
But: we had the chance to witness – and be able to take part in the European boom in boating in the early eighties… Right time, right place….
By not starting our design careers in an established office (under a designmaster) we had the privilege of learning exclusively from our own mistakes.
Nor did we have any marketing: only our customers and the subsequent success of our projects spoke for our office.
We’ve been surrounded by brilliant and close friends who gave us superb guidance and advice. And we’ve had the longstanding help of innumerable talented and hard-working co-workers and colleagues who made everything possible. It makes us so proud to invest our lives and our work in teamwork of such excellency.
Unlike on mega yachts, where only one ego needs to be happy with the design—and there’s a lot of space available to meet that person’s needs—it’s harder to work on “small” boats with their high number of repetitions but without much area or volume available. As one of our former colleagues, who now works in mega yachts, put it: “We are custom suit designers, and J&J is prêt-à-porter.”
But that is exactly what industrial design is all about—efficiency, careful use of resources, and sustainability were always J&J’s key guidelines, dating back to our roots in zero-waste zero-pollution of modest rural environment.
We chose—and created—a holistic design approach unlike that of any other suppliers of design, engineering, and tooling in boating: everything under the same roof. We evolved a full scope of development for the boating industry and the boatbuilders, not only via our creativity and conceptual clairvoyance, but also our deep hands-on knowledge of all elements of boat production, including all areas of cost, man-hours count and needs, factory layout optimization, marketing and branding and all sales-related environment.
Possibly the main element of our success has been intertwining disciplines and know-how with all components of scope of work, such as naval architecture, design or engineering. When all pieces are (nearly) right and the design comes together in a harmonic full swing of comprehensive and aggregate integration of features.