- Fleet - The suggestion box

By Dario Schiavo

The suggestion box

Dario Schiavo explores the increasingly vital role of open and constructive dialogue between senior crew and designers in ensuring a project's success…

Designing a yacht presents a perpetual challenge involving numerous stakeholders. At its core, the project revolves around the customer - a yacht owner who entrusts a shipyard or designer to turn their dream into reality. Everything is meticulously planned around their lifestyle, preferences and habits. In recent years, the yachting world has embraced new design languages, departing from strict maritime traditions and embracing domestic design principles.

This transformation encompasses the selection of materials, the philosophy of on-board living, and innovative layouts, marking a significant shift. The most noticeable changes occur within the interiors, the heart of life on board, where the owner and guests must feel at home. Consequently, designers and architects often establish a direct connection with the customer. They visit their homes, conduct extensive interviews, and gather crucial insights to craft a bespoke design.

While the owner's involvement remains pivotal, other essential figures are increasingly instrumental in ensuring that interior design is not only visually appealing but also highly functional for life on board. This life extends beyond the guests and encompasses various individuals who must coexist seamlessly.

Here is where the captain and crew step in, assuming the role of consultants who offer unique perspectives essential for making informed decisions, finding solutions, optimising spaces, and ensuring that all aspects of life on board run in perfect harmony. This marks a new era in yachting, where "hands-on" experience assumes a more prominent role. Let's delve into this topic with Captain Mattia Dzaja, in charge of the Amels 60m motor yacht Satemi, and Pierpaolo Perugino, a superyacht captain with over 25 years of dedicated service in the superyacht industry.

Amels 60m Satemi

Collaboration between designers and captains is indispensable. Often, what a designer envisions as fantastic, both aesthetically and functionally, may prove impractical for life on board. The crew's efficiency hinges on well-conceived layouts and specialised solutions, ultimately ensuring that the owner and guests have an enjoyable stay.

Dzaja offers an example: "I often collaborate with consulting firms; I rely on Omegawolf. They once pointed out that on some yachts the galley, while beautiful, does not facilitate the chef or chief stewardess; they may be far from the dining area or even located on another deck."

This disconnect between the functionality of space onboard and its utility as a design medium is further exemplified by the wheelhouse/bridge design, which as Dzaja explains, is often a point of contention for captains and officers. "I'm thinking of those wheelhouses designed as real living rooms to welcome guests and Owners. Well, in my view, the wheelhouse must please the officer and facilitate safe navigation, nothing else."

The ultimate objective of our work? When we convene with designers, owners, and shipyards, we amalgamate our 120 years of sea experience to create something truly unique. Our paramount concern, and a fundamental starting point for modern yachting, is to harmonize aesthetics with operational functionality."

Captain Mattia Dzaja

This sounds great in principle, but it seems unavoidable that this will cause conflict with the vision of a design team. How do you prevent your intervention and interactions from irking the designer? Dzaja asserts, "Our input doesn't aim to undermine the designer's ideas but to support them practically and functionally, ensuring the project's success in creating something distinctive. What truly counts for the owner's satisfaction and the desired onboard experience is that the crew can save time through well-considered interior and exterior designs that streamline daily operations.

We staunchly believe that contemporary design must seamlessly blend pure aesthetic concepts with technical requirements. This is solely to ensure that the owner, the project's focal point, enjoys the best possible onboard quality of life."

Pierpaolo Perugino holds a similar view and goes on to highlight several reasons that underscore the necessity of involving figures such as the captain, chief engineer, chef, and chief stewardess in yacht design and construction.

"Insights from experienced captains with decades of luxury yacht experience prove invaluable when a project aims to meld design with optimal conditions for safe, comfortable sailing that guarantees the owner's and guests' privacy. When we are discussing deck layouts, the primary considerations include optimization, navigation equipment efficiency, manoeuvrability, and safety - all of which the crew have invaluable insight into."

Perugino continues, "We also maintain constant communication with the engineering team to ensure that propulsion systems, energy management, and all other onboard systems meet expectations and are optimized for maintenance and efficient operation. This encompasses vessel safety and compliance with maritime regulations. The captain's involvement in shaping a project from its inception ensures that the yacht adheres to all regulatory requirements and includes necessary safety measures."

Are there other individuals who can assist the designer in conceiving spaces and environments that function optimally on board? Perugino suggests, "Two important figures come to mind: the chef and the chief stewardess. Their knowledge and roles serve as a bridge between the shipyard and the client, helping plan the specifications of the galley and communal and entertainment areas. This ensures they are not only highly productive and meet the owner's expectations but are also comfortable for the entire crew.

Ultimately, the captain's and crew's involvement in yacht design and construction is crucial to ensure that the vessel excels not only in design and functionality, maximizing the value of the investment but also in providing an unparalleled luxury experience to its guests. The practical experience of these individuals in the maritime and hospitality industries significantly contributes to project success and customer satisfaction."

It's clear that a yacht becomes a dream yacht only when all elements operate in perfect harmony, allowing every passenger, whether guest or crew, to coexist peacefully, without impeding one another. The collaboration between those who take charge of the yacht once the moorings are lifted, overseeing every aspect, and those who initially step on board with a pencil to ensure perfection in every detail, is essential for making the owner's dream a reality.

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