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Superyacht Design Festival 2022: Highlights from the event

23 June 2022

Kicking off on Wednesday 22 June with the BOAT International Design & Innovation awards, the Superyacht Design Festival came to a close today after two days of panels, exhibitions and networking events in the heart of Milan. 

Day One

The first day of the Superyacht Design Festival began with a celebratory breakfast for the Young Designers of the Year, which is held in association with Oceanco. This year’s winner, Ignacio Bourgon, was in attendance, alongside finalists from this year and past editions. “This was a real-life experience in seeing how a design brief works with a client. It was a challenge, but we had so much freedom,” commented 2022 finalist Martijn van Dort.

Paris Baloumis, Oceanco’s marketing director, and Antonio Caviglia, Oceanco’s sales director also attended the breakfast. “There is incredible talent this year, as always,” said Baloumis. “These designers bring so much energy and enthusiasm and desire to learn. I think it’s inspirational for the entire industry. We’re going to see so many big changes in the next few years, and these designers will be a big part of that."

Finalists of the Young Designer of the Year Award enjoy a celebratory breakfast
All photos credit: @lodoclick_photography @mr_mtt

The day was then offically opened by Shirley Robertson OBE, followed by an address from BOAT International’s editor-in-chief Stewart Campbell. Campbell highlighted the record-breaking success of the superyacht industry over the past year, with 1,024 yachts currently in-build or ordered and 750 yachts sold in 2021.

Adapt and Overcome

The keynote address was delivered by Italian architect Stefano Boeri, who spoke about how designers can react and adapt to the needs of society while identifying creative opportunities in a quickly-changing world. Boeri focused on new energy solutions, saying, “it’s not about public or private owners, it’s about what we can do all together as a collective." He added: “At the same time, it’s very important we must work to absolve the energy that we’ve already used.”

Stefano Boeri discusses the future of architecture and design

Designing a Superyacht for the Senses

The next presentation of the day came from Professor Barry Smith, who shone the spotlight on the different senses that designers can play on when designing superyachts. Aside from visual qualities, Smith mentioned proprioception, sense of balance, touch and the importance of multi-sensory experiences. The presentation was interactive, with Smith inviting the audience to experiment with sound and balance. “The most important thing about design is congruence, making sure that everything you see and feel is working together and calibrating,” he said. Surprises in design can be effective and pleasurable says Smith, but everything should be in moderation.

A Yacht for the Skies

Guillaume Hoddé took to the stage next to discuss his innovative concept, the AirYacht. Comprising a 100-metre airship attached to a superyacht-style residence, the two components can fly through the air and sail on the sea. “AirYacht is not just a dream of designers,” said Hoddé. “In the past, the shore was the limit. Like the fish becomes the bird, the AirYacht is a clear evolution of the superyacht.” Ahead of the Superyacht Design Festival, BOAT caught up with Franck Darnet and Guillaume Hoddé to learn more about the innovative project.

Read More/AirYacht reveals radical 52m airship-yacht crossover concept
Guillaume Hoddé presents the AirYacht

100% Fossil-Fuel-Free Will It Ever Happen?

The first panel discussion of the day centred around the future of 100% fossil-free fuel. It was moderated by Cecile Guaert, editor-in-chief of BOAT International US Edition who was joined by Paolo Bertetti, vice presidence R&D at Sanlorenzo, Nicola Camuffo, director yacht competence centre and senior manager application engineering of Rolls-Royce Solutions, Nicolas Lapp, head of R&D at Sunreef Yachts, Matteo Margherini, naval architect at Lateral Naval Architects and Riccardo Repetto, global segment manager at ABB Marine.

The discussion aimed to address the dreams of designers to move to completely sustainable fuel solutions. “Everybody is looking at the future, but if we want to get there we have to pass through the electric propulsion [first],” commented Repetto. As well as electricity, hydrogen was a big talking point.“Hydrogen is the most ready technology, but the problem is volume,” said Lapp.  Margherini agreed, saying that the technology is ready, but “the key challenge is that regulations are not there yet”. He also touched on the practical challenges of fossil-free technologies. “In the luxury world, compromise is a dirty word,” he pointed out.

Graphene: The next chapter

Building on the theme of sustainability, Jamie Edmiston, CEO of brokerage firm Edmiston Yachts and chairman of Levidian, took to the stage to speak about graphene and its application in the marine industry.  “One of the ways that the yacht business is brilliant is in getting visionary owners to invest in new technologies,” said Edmiston. “The leading shipyards are embracing these technologies and are prepared to work with owners to find new solutions.”

Read More/Levidian Nanosystems secures £12M investment to scale graphene production
Jamie Edmiston discusses graphene

An Autonomous Future

The next panel discussion of the day focused on AI, and how it can facilitate an autonomous future for the superyacht industry. Cecile Gauert was joined by Eric Aquaronne of HW Systems Strategy, Guilhem Molines, chief architect and senior technical staff member at IBM and Drew Orvieto, senior director of product management of Sea Machines Robotics, who touched on the possibilities of AI “enhancing” a yacht’s existing capabilities, rather than replacing it entirely, and the potential resistance that these new technologies may face.

Responsive Design

Delving into the world of responsive design and art, BOAT International’s digital content director Sophia Wilson took to the stage alongside Zaniz of Zaniz Studio, Sally Storey, founding director of Lighting Design International, Tommy Lexen, managing director of Immersive International and Pantaleone Megna, head of lighting at Videoworks. The panel discussed the enormous potential for immersive art on superyachts, as well as the challenges. “Technology is not here to disrupt design, and that’s what so many people get wrong," said Lexen. "We don’t want to put screens in every room, we want to help the native design and uphold the opportunities that are already there."

Read More/Superyacht Design Festival 2022: Q&A with Zaniz of Zaniz Studio
Between panel discussions, attendees were able to network

An Interview with Patricia Viel

Attendees were treated to an interview with Patricia Viel, co-founder of Citterio Viel, conducted by BOAT International’s features director Charlotte Hogarth-Jones. Speaking about her approach to design, Viel said that “maintaining a friendship with the sea” is the most important thing. She also touched on the transition between land-based design and maritime design, as well as the importance of letting the yacht’s natural movements guide the flow of the layout and styling. 

Read More/Superyacht Design Festival 2022: Q&A with Patricia Viel

The Evolution of the Beach Club

In the final panel discussion of the day Cecile Gauert was joined by leading designers Luiz de Basto and Giorgio Cassetta. The talking point of the panel was the beach club and its evolution, with the designers discussing the ways in which beach clubs can become less "segregated" from the rest of the space. "I think we need to get out of rituals," commented Cassetta, highlighting the popularity of the apartment-style beach club on board 107 metre Luminosity and the spacious lounge on board 90 metre Dar.

The panel discussions drew plenty of questions from the audience

Superyachts and Space

The final presentation of the day was given by Michael Altenhofen, director of human space flights at SpaceX. He touched on the future of commercial air travel and shared the success that SpaceX has enjoyed so far, with 164 successful launches and many more to come.

Day 2

A Boat, is a Boat, is a Boat

Day two was opened with a presentation from Carl Pickering, of design studio Lazzarini Pickering, who spoke about the design of some of the studio’s most iconic models. Pickering gave examples of his client’s briefs and showed how the studio approached each one, as well as the ways in which the design evolves from the initial sketches. Some of the briefs were specific – like a client who wanted speed but wasn’t attached to teak – and some allowed more freedom – like a client who wanted to interpret the glamour and nautical spirit of the 60s. Pickering showed sketches of the Wally B, the Wally 80 and the Benetti Motopanfilo, to name a few. “Integration between interior and exterior is vital,” said Pickering. “We try to create boats that, from bow to stern, have the same language.” He also touched on how he builds on the criticism of other boats that he’s seen.

Sophia Wilson and Zaniz discuss the potential that Responsive Design can bring to superyachts

An Audience with Giorgetto Giugiaro

Giorgetto Giugiaro took to the stage to discuss his impressive career and innovative approach to design. He was interviewed in Italian by TV director Giosuè Boetto Cohen. Giugiaro touched on the importance of letting mathematics and physics guide his design. “When we speak about beauty we need to speak about proportions,” he said. “Knowing the way to express [beauty] in mathematics is very important because everyone today can draw something beautiful, but then when they go to manufacture it, it won’t work.” As well as learning more about the creative aspects of design over the course of his career, Giugiaro said that he was also taught the economic elements of design, including costs, available tools and assembly lines. He also highlighted the importance of making designs different, saying that the pyramids wouldn’t be worth visiting if they were all the same height and proportions.

Read More/Superyacht Design Festival: 10 things you didn’t know were designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro

How to Find an Artisan

The next panel discussion of the day came from designer Andrew Winch and Deborah Pocock, CEO of the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST), a trust which supports the training and education of young craftspeople. Winch was able to shed some light on finding hidden talent in the industry, saying "as designers, we shouldn't be secretive, we should help designers grow." Winch was also able to reveal some of his most impressive designs and discuss the journey that led him from concept to completion. 

All Work and No Play

The key to creativity, according to Professor Samantha Parsley, is being able to work in an environment that champions freedom and imagination. Parsley's presentation centred around the link between a fun, lively workplace and productive, happy employees. She shared her extensive research, case studies and findings with the audience, touching on points like health and safety and "gimmicky marketing tactics." The biggest takeaway was that "fun at work [is effective] as long as it is self-authored and created by the people who are engaging in it".

This year's Design Challenge was hosted by Triton Submarines

The Italian Way: What Makes Italian Design Unique?

The last day was wrapped up by Associate Professor of Italian Studies at Villanova Univerisity, Luca Cottini P.h.D. The presentation provided a fascinating insight into iconic Italian designs, with Cottini providing examples like the Riva Aquarama and the Bialetti. "Every object or brand aspires to become a classic [...] masterpiece. You need to use objects as storytelling devices," explained Cottini. He spoke about the roots of Italian flair and the way that Italian appeal can add value. 

To mark the end of the Superyacht Design Festival, Shirley Robertson took to the stage a final time to deliver her closing remarks, and announce the winner of Triton Submarine's Design Challenge. Triton's president Patrick Lahey presented the award to Michel Dragoni, who was commended for his creative use of space and style.

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