New nautical perspectives. Made in Italy interior design gets on board

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Ocean Emerald by Foster+Partners for YachtPlus, Cantieri Navali Rodriquez, Sarzana - photo by Nigel Young

The latest generation superyachts have been signed by designers such as Lissoni, Citterio-Viel, Ciarmoli Queda and, surprisingly, by Armani. The most prestigious boats have become works of art.

Italy, the land of saints, poets and navigators. And boats. The most beautiful ship in the world, the Amerigo Vespucci, recently notched up 90 years, and is still ploughing the waves. Then there were the Andrea Doria, the first Italian-style transatlantic vessel, with interventions by Gio Ponti, the exclusive Nineties Costa cruisers with interiors designed by Vittorio Gregotti and Guido Canali, right up to the Smeralda in 2019, its layout, internal cabins, stairs and corridors by Studio Dordoni Architetti, and lastly Renzo Piano’s unmistakable Crown and Regal Princess. A collection that is testament to Made in Italy’s winning streak in nautical prowess, in which design and technology dovetail perfectly.  

Aside from transatlantic vessels, many architects have turned to designing exclusive yachts, boasting levels of comfort and style consummate with the best traditions in the Italian way of life. The eagerly anticipated superyacht SX 112 at the last Genoa Boat Show features interiors in the pure, crisp style of Piero Lissoni, Art Director at the Sanlorenzo Shipyard since 2018. The focal point is 90 m2 beach area in the stern. A spiral staircase on the main deck, enclosed in a transparent volume, for all the world as if it were suspended in the air, completes the wholly original living quarters.

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Il superyacht SX 112 di Piero Lissoni, Sanlorenzo - photo by Thomas Pagani

Launched last October, Custom Line Navetta 30 by Antonio Citterio-Patricia Viel and Filippo Salvetti is a new icon loaded with charm. Great care has been taken with the natural, living materials – leather, wood and rope, along with the signature circle, which provided the inspiration for the curved lines, echoing the nautical tradition along with the blue colour of the walls, furnishings and textiles and the custom resin film covering the bulkheads. A meticulous lighting design ensures the total integration of architecture and light. The classic profile of the powerfully horizontal hull crafts a symbol of elegance in a contemporary key. The furnishing includes pieces by Flexform, such as the Evergreen sofa, the A.B.C.D. armchairs and the Jiff coffee and side tables.  

Another dream project - the clue’s in the name - is Simone Ciarmoli and Miguel Queda’s M/Y Dream, an actual 105 m yacht with 6 decks, 23 cabins, a 440 m2 lobby, several lounges and dining rooms, a teppanyaki dining area, a SPA, a home theatre, a panoramic swimming pool and a number of relaxation areas. A composite world with no shortage of references to the masters of French decor and hinging on a boiserie – the common thread that links indoors and outdoors. It’s a declaration of love to the sea, by means of symbols and creatures recreated in the mosaic floors and in the lifts. New luxe, contrived by skilled artisan processes, precious materials and scenographic backdrops. The main brands featured are Flexform, Annibale Colombo, Rubelli, Tabu and Rosenthal. 

Other brands representative of Made in Italy at sea – the memory of fixed and nautical furnishings is now a distant one – include Medea 1905 with the CRN M/Y Latona Yacht, a paean to Liberty-style, Molteni&C with Benetti Yachts’ Oasis 40M Rebeca, equipped with Gio Ponti’s D 859.1 table and MHC.3 Miss chairs by Tobia Scarpa, and Poltrona Frau for nautical brands such as Ferretti Yacht, Pershing, Wally and Riva as regards the development and manufacture of instrument panel seating.

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Custom Line Navetta 30 by Antonio Citterio-Patricia Viel and Filippo Salvetti, Ferretti Group - photo courtesy of Custom Line

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M/Y Dream by Simone Ciarmoli and Miguel Queda - photo courtesy of Frederic Ducout 

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M/Y Latona Yacht master suite, CRN

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Oasis 40M Rebeca, Benetti Yachts - Photo courtesy of Benetti Yachts 

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International architects have also tried their hand at nautical design. Patricia Urquiola produced the SD96, for Sanlorenzo, fully respecting nautical culture, carrying out meticulous research into spaces, shapes and materials, such as that obtained by recycling fibreglass from boats for the outdoor tables, kitchen stools and bedside tables.  

Foster+Partners have designed a number of high-end boats since 2009 – the Panthalassa yacht, the Alen motor yacht and a series of 41 m superyachts for YachtPlus (built by the Rodriquez Shipyard in Sarzana), of which the Ocean Emerald is the very first in the world in multiple ownership.  

David Chipperfield, another name on the international design scene and a keen sailor himself, designed the spacious interiors of the ultra-luxurious Tankoa S65-11 maxi-yacht in a minimalistic style that puts comfort above flashiness, and those of the Brenta 80 D carbon cruiser, which are understated and sophisticated, furnished with chairs and sofas by Franco Albini and Luigi Caccia Dominioni. Giugiaro Architettura has also designed a Tankoa, the S65-12 mega yacht, luxurious but ecologically conscious.  

The pioneers of this discipline include Marc Newson with Aquariva - a perfect restyling of the old Aquarama, again by Riva, and a Fifties and Sixties icon. Launched in a 22-unit limited edition, it is marketed by the Gagosian Gallery in New York. 

A fashion designer has also put his name to a superyacht, in fact to yachts over 70 metres. The new 72 m Admiral motor yacht, presented to the press a few months ago, bears the signature of Giorgio Armani, in partnership with The Italian Sea Group, a luxury nautical benchmark. The elegance and sophistication of the boat draw on the style of the fashion house, in a perfect blend of design and avantgarde technology. Its launch is slated for early 2024.  

Pierpaolo Lazzarini’s Jet Capsule gives us a taster of what the watercrafts of the future might be like. It’s an 18 m2 high-performing mini-yacht and totally customisable according to the users’ preferences, from leisure to commercial. It boasts photochromic windows, photovoltaic panels, with a choice of single or dual jet, diesel or petrol 440 to 1200 horsepower engines and speeds of between 35 and 65 knots or three electric motors capable of achieving 30 knots, and a cutting-edge hydro propulsion system. Inspired by the rescue shuttles on great cargo ships, it’s a novel boat concept that even at the pre-launch stage attracted much attention. Assembled by hand in Italy using a method more akin to that used for a hyper car than a ship, it has CE and RINA certification and can be used as a leisure craft or for commercial transport all over the world.  

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Pershing 9X Maxi Coupé, Ferretti Group 

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SD96 Yacht by Patricia Urquiola, Sanlorenzo

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Admiral Motor Yacht by Armani in partnership with The Italian Sea Group (currently being built)

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The new TWINS.229 version of Jet Capsule by Pierpaolo Lazzarini

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21 July 2021