aino grapin elite living africaAino Grapin is responsible for leading the team into a new phase of success over the next 30 years, working closely with Andrew, the Board and the senior management team 


Holding an MBA from INSEAD, Grapin started her career as a strategy consultant with Bain & Company focusing on growth strategies and private equity due diligence. She then spent nearly a decade at Christie’s, in a variety of strategic and operational roles, including International Business Director, responsible for Russian art.

Aino went on to set up the European operations of Paddle8-Auctionata, an online auction house and major disruptor in the art world, as Managing Director, Europe. Elite Living Africa talks to her about her 20 years of experience in leading and growing businesses in creative industries, namely in the art, luxury and technology sectors.

Elite Living Africa (ELA): What made you decide to forge a career in the creative industries i.e art, luxury and technology?

Aino Grapin: I started off as a management consultan t – I decided I wanted to work in thecreative industry be it in music or fine art – I was
just looking for the right challenges and that’s w hen I joined Christie’s and I stayed in the art world for about 10 years before moving to design, so I think
looking back what probably interested me beyond my own personal interest is that a business person it is interesting to look at that management
challenge that stems from that healthy tension between creativity and business. For instance at Winch Design I managed an extremely creative business. We are constantly designing unique piecesof furtniture or design or architecture and meanwhile we are still running a business. I think that as a business person that is really interesting
challenge. And that was the case when I worked in tradional art auctions or online auctions or now in
artchitecture and design.

ELA: How do you think your vast experience will help in this new role as CEO of Winch Design?

AG: Thankfully I was surprised that were so many parallels between what I encountered at Christie’s in particular in the art world and the design field because we share a lot of similar clients and a lot of our clients are avid art collectors as well. The second parallel I would say is people management in the creative industries. A big part of my role is effectively to support the teams here in the three studios in architecture, aviation and yachts and make sureall our designers and all of our people have the
right tools, have the right support, have the right training to excel at their jobs.

ELA: How did your interest for yachting develop?
AG: I went to visit a shipyard before joining Winch Design which Andrew Winch took me on in Holland and it really opened my eyes. Yachting is the ultimate expression of your individuality and freedom and luxury because no two yachts are the same and the attention of detail. It is very easy to fall in love with the industry but there is a whole side of it which is very industrial and when you go to the shipyard in Northern Europe and you see the thousands of people that work in thisindustry who really put a lot of themselves into it and its not just Winch Design, all our teams work really hard to make the designs exceed the client’s expectations but it is also the designers and everyone in the shipyard and their suppliers and that’s much more of a hard hat environment. But Ireally enjoy that side of things as well.

The rest of the issue can be read in Elite Living Africa Issue 1: