Carlo Nuvolari and Dan Lenard are some of the most sought after yacht designers in the world. They share a common vision of yacht design, and we bring their answers together.
Interview - Alain Brouss.
What trends do you think characterize the design of yachts in the last decade most fully?
These ten years have been extremely intense. Let's turn first to the topic... yacht design as a whole, as interior design deserves to be considered separately. We can say that during these years we have seen a great confusion of ideas and proposals, which was caused by the massive use of 3D technology. They create the illusion that design has made giant strides forward and everyone at once seems like a real artist. But it's just an impression. The design of yachts has really changed a lot before, in the 70s and 90s. One of the most obvious effects of modern computer design is "edge design" - the dominance of flat surfaces and sharp edges in project styles. The fact is that it is much easier to create a computer project than the old days to start with a sketch and approach the computer model only through all the preparatory stages, the same thing happened in the 90's and the automotive sector. Our studio has never given up on stylistic searches, but we continue to draw by hand and we have an internal workshop to create models. All these intermediate phases are very important and contribute to the success of projects.
Does the alliance between naval architecture and styling suffer because the yacht is designed in the «shortest possible way ?»Doesn't there appear to be a mismatch between the underwater and surface part of the ship?
Of course it does! It's not uncommon for external design to be overlooked. to pay attention to the underwater part - this approach is unacceptable to Nuvolari & Lenard. In good architecture, structure is an integral part of aesthetics: the same must happen in shipbuilding. The hull, its functionality and aesthetics must be connected as in a racing car or aircraft. Artificially combining separate parts is a secret... failure.
What were the last ten years like for Nuvolari-Lenard? Let's talk about serial production, it imposes the greatest obligations: market, costs, the very fact that ships are created not for one single customer, but for the whole category of shipowners.
We have designed many, really many yachts from 14 to 100 metres. And I believe that our studio has been able to set new standards for yachts from 40 to 100 metres. to 90 feet. The Marquis 42 and 50 Sport Coupe, made for the American shipyard of the same name, are clear proof of this. Thorough market research prior to the creation of these models and a number of innovations have predetermined success. Their special features include lines that resonate with the cars and are effectively highlighted by the colours (we were among the first to use the range of metallic in models of different sizes), and enclosures designed for propulsion systems IPS.
We have been criticized for supporting the IPS concept, but we are confident that, especially for these ship sizes, the time has come to abandon the idea of a machine room (with all the consequences in terms of cost, weight and maintenance) and to rely on a compact and lightweight system such as IPS, in which each motor is a complete and independent «package», just as it is on aircraft where the engines are independent of each other and of the aircraft itself, thus increasing efficiency and facilitating operation. In a sense, the reliability of the intake motors is transferred to stationary engines, in which all «life» systems (power, thrust, transmission, exhaust and control) are integrated and supplied by the engine manufacturer.
Another interesting concept that we have recently developed is the new "protected nose" series. MCY 76produced under the Monte Carlo Yachts brand, the group's companies... Jeanneau-Beneteau. The yacht has a high bow and excellent seaworthiness; the high bulwark protecting the front cockpit is certainly a rare element on vessels of this size. Sarnico 44 Spider, a small but surprisingly harmonious yacht, is a new definition of luxury in a compact size.
Does the crisis define design?
The crisis has affected the market by reducing the number of shipowners and by making they're more demanding and selective. Shipyards specializing in serial production have to change their strategy: expand the range of models and reduce the number of copies produced.
The trend leads to «niche» production. All these phenomena force designers to create new models, and shipyards have to restructure the production process. All this is not new to design: similar processes took place in the automotive industry in the 1980s.
At first there were a maximum of two versions of one model: a four-door sedan and a coupe. Let's look at the modern market: sedans, station wagons, convertibles, SUVs, fastbacks, minivans - all these cars have the same chassis. The same goes for boats: flybridges, hardtops, sports, trawlers, lobsters, new concepts will appear to attract more customers.
Yachts are not essential goods, which means it is always necessary to produce something that exactly meets the expectations of potential sophisticated customers. If a toy is to satisfy the owner's ego, the yacht must be absolutely beautiful. And for now - let's not forget about it - the owner does not want to pay too much for it, it is also necessary to restrain prices. Shipyards will have to lower their profits. The competition will be fierce.
Let's move on to a topic that is becoming more and more relevant to the motor car. shipbuilding: environmental protection. What do you think about that?
In the lectures we give at the Master of Yacht Design at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Venice, we pay much attention to environmental issues. But the research we do for the same Master's degree shows that, in reality, there are very few ship owners who are concerned about environmental issues. Their main concern is to reduce the cost of maintaining yachts and, as we know, fuel prices are only one item of expenditure and not the most burdensome.
The fact that some shipyards offer and promote «green» projects (or at least projects that are positioned as such) is the answer to the crisis. As we mentioned before, the trend «is now towards niche» production, and «green» yachts are one of these niches. To be truly green, we must change the way we think and the way we think about yachting.
Don't you ever look back?
Why not all the time, of course. And in our production, and in others at There's a lot to look back on, but not much in the past can really help us. excite. The project we're really excited about is... our next project, and it's one that we start with a constant passion.
Published in YACHTS magazine #35.