interior design

The Ultra Rich Are Driving the Production of Floating Galleries

The Ultra Rich Are Driving the Production of Floating Galleries

MILAN — When San Lorenzo, an Italian made-to-measure yacht-maker tapped design legend Patricia Urquiola in a landmark partnership in 2019, the decision was based on beauty before euros.
“I chose Patricia because I wanted to add a more feminine touch to the interiors in Sanlorenzo yachts, something which until now had been foreign to the nautical world. And today she is the most sought-after woman in global design thanks to her ability to combine beauty and comfort. All done with a touch of irony and almost poetic sensitivity,” Sanlorenzo’s chairman Massimo Perotti said at the time. Urquiola incorporated her signature flair into SD96, starting with the modernist metallic winding staircase and finishings like a biscuit-patterned parquet floor and sleek modular furnishings.

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Now that the COVID-19 pandemic doldrums are behind us, a frenzy for floating palaces is being fueled by ultra-high end spending. As a result, the yachting world is reaching new heights, both in terms of aesthetics and new projects but also in terms of sales.

Sanlorenzo’s SD96 designed by Patricia Urquiola

Courtesy of Patricia Urquiola

Sales of private yachts and jets grew by 18 percent for 2022 at current exchange rates versus 2021, reaching 26 billion euros, according to the latest report released by Claudia D’Arpizio and Federica Levato, senior partners at Bain & Company.

Italy’s yacht production alone stood at 3.6 billion euros in 2021, according to a Deloitte and Confindustria Nautica study presented in April, led by companies like Ferretti Group, which is listed in Hong Kong and in Milan. Figures for 2022 have yet to be released but revenue forecasts for Italian shipyards in 2022 are expected to post a growth rate of between 15 and 20 percent. The report also said the global yachting market was worth a total of 52 billion euros in 2021 and around 60 percent of that value was related to new boat production.

Heesen, which was founded by Russian Oligarch Vagit Alekperov, has just finished its largest steel super yacht, spanning 220 feet from tip to tail. In May 2022, Alekperov a former Lukoil chief executive officer, transferred his shares to an independent Dutch foundation after being sanctioned by the U.K. in 2022.

Its interior and exterior was designed by renowned UK studio Winch Design and spearheaded by Jim Dixon, managing partner and creative director, yachts and aviation, whose team created the ambience of a five-plus-star hotel on water, based on three elements: water, earth and air.

This came to life through an entire wellness center designed around Japanese aesthetics that includes an oval whirlpool, steam room, sauna, gym, beauty area and lounge. Dixon said the large jacuzzi was finished with custom exterior, while the sauna was meticulously fashioned with curved, rounded edges. Elsewhere, a 3D-effect leaf-like tabletop was crafted for a large coffee table made from two parts of an oak tree trunk, while the master suite is outfitted with mother-of-pearl inlays and an abstract patterned Tai Ping carpet.

Inside the Phoenix 2, another Winch design.

Jim Raycroft

The same was the case for Phoenix 2, built by Lürssen with a Winch Design exterior and interior, envisaged as a salute to New York’s art-deco heyday and the industrial and financial prowess of the early 1920s. 

Awash in a palette of black, cream, gold and burgundy and enhanced with high-gloss macassar wood and gold leaf, the interiors conjure America’s Golden Age. A six-paneled gold bas relief rendering of jazz musicians hands is in the center of the dining room, while the dining table stands out for its cowbone and black wood patterned into piano keys. 

Dixon said clients are raising the bar for design elements in a big way, since people are spending more time on board and trying to recreate a “home away from home.”

Bain echoed the sentiment, noting that luxury yacht orders rose to a record level, driven by a desire for deeper connections with nature and comfort and increased interest from high-net-worth individuals, and there are few signs of a slowdown in sight.

“This reflects a desire for deeper connections with nature and comfort. Designs increasingly reflect these preoccupations, through features such as enlarged stern areas or a preference for explorer yachts able to sail to the remotest areas,” the Bain report said.

RH formerly Restoration Hardware unveiled RH Three in 2022, an expedition yacht available for charter in the Mediterranean during the summer and the Bahamas in the winter. Its yacht venture is part of a larger plan to expand further into related businesses, including the world of exclusive lodging, restaurants and even the world of charter jets (RH One and Two are charter jets). Among RH Three’s many design elements like Carrara marble baths and cashmere bedding, the indoor dining space is punctuated with deck chairs by Paola Lenti and Vincent Van Duysen and a limited-edition lithograph and screen print by Bruce Nauman.

Inside RH Three’s indoor dining space featuring deck chairs by Paola Lenti and Vincent Van Duysen and a limited-edition lithograph and screen print by Bruce Nauman.

Courtesy of RH

For centuries, the maritime and nautical worlds have influenced interiors and decor, and today, it may seem that the reverse is true. ABASK, a London-based home decor, objects and gifts e-commerce started by MatchesFashion founder Tom Champan and former e-commerce director Nicolas Pickaerts said in the first eight months since the platform’s inception, interest from the boating and yachting communities, as well as designers working on projects in that sphere, is an increasing facet of the business. Linens by Florentine house Loretta Caponi and glassware by Artel, a handcrafted luxury crystal firm preserving production methods originally practiced by an early 20th-century collective of Czech artisans, are among the products making their way to the high seas.

A vintage Chinese mahjong set circa 1920s sold on ABASK.

Courtesy of ABASK

Last month, in a move that further unites the design and yachting worlds, Salone del Mobile’s president Maria Porro was appointed chair of a jury for Genoa’s International Boat Show’s Design Innovation Award, a six-day show that will run from Sept. 21 to 26. 

Salone del Mobile said the decision to appoint Porro as president was based on her ability to impart “bold perspectives and insights, especially in the fields of environmental, economic and social responsibility,” and “her strong belief that the design of today, along with the creative potential of the upcoming generation, will produce virtuous solutions that will accelerate the changes our planet so badly needs.”

Sparta made by Heesen, designed by Winch Design.

Courtesy of Winch Design

In a further step, Fornasetti and luxury yacht company Ferretti Group recently announced a landmark collaboration, marking the home decor and furnishing maker’s foray into the nautical arena. 

The project will take off under through Ferretti’s Custom Line brands and Riva, which was founded on Lago Iseo in 1842 and endures as a symbol of Italy’s Dolce Vita era. In 2010, Riva dazzled the fashion world with a made-to-order Aquariva by Gucci speedboat at the Cannes, France, boat show. Custom Line is known for its made-to-measure super yachts, with custom interiors reflecting the owner’s desires, character and approach to the sea.

The interior design of the private room at Riva’s La Spezia shipyard features Fornasetti furniture and accessories.

Courtesy of Ferretti Group

Fellow historic Italian boat-maker Baglietto has been focused on fostering young talent and instilling the skills for future boat creatives to create floating marvels. Last April, the shipbuilder envisaged a cross-industry talent garden called Officina Baglietto that promotes a cross pollination of ideas and creativity between its core business — boat design — and related fields. 

The inaugural edition was curated by YACademy, a design academy based in Bologna, to celebrate the shipyard’s 170th anniversary with a program that offers seven scholarships to fully cover the fees for a training program involving four courses, furniture, fashion, jewelry and boating.

Recognizing the changing playing field in the worlds of architecture and design, Nicholas Bewick, head of the product design area at Officina Baglietto and art director and project director at design and architecture studio AMDL, said it’s important to prepare the new leaders of tomorrow to rise to the occasion — underscoring the continued connection between yachts and design.

“We strongly believe in the importance of teaching and in a multidisciplinary approach to projects: for this reason, we are glad to take part in this kind of initiative able to activate new synergies and to contribute to the training of future designers,” he said. 

Courtesy of Officina Baglietto

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