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Keeping things in proportion: Francesco Paszkowski on balancing outdoor furniture

Whether creating custom pieces or selecting from his go-to brands, designer Francesco Paszkowski believes exterior furniture should be stylish and streamlined so as not to overwhelm the space or obstruct the view...

The Italian yacht designer known for his effortlessly sleek exterior lines took an early interest in design. Born in 1963 in Milan, the now Florence-based designer began by studying architecture, training alongside his father, before becoming a pupil of renowned Italian architect and yacht designer Pier-Luigi Spadolini. A similar interest in boats soon followed, and in 1990 he set up the Francesco Paszkowski Design studio, producing custom exterior and luxury interior designs for a number of notable shipyards.

Best known for his long-standing relationship with Baglietto, he has also worked with the likes of Heesen Yachts, Sanlorenzo, CRN, Turquoise Yachts, Canados, ISA Yachts and Tankoa Yachts. Designs have ranged in size from 24 to 70 metres, both planing and displacement, in fibre-glass and aluminium. Paszkowski is assisted by interior architect Margherita Casprini, who joined the company in 2006 overseeing décor and the research of new materials and now heads up all aspects of interior design at the studio.

The recipient of a number of awards for his work, including Best Exterior Design for the Sanlorenzo 38.5 metre Onyx (now Bliss Easy) in 2009 and Commendation for Design for the 61 metre CRN Saramour at the World Superyacht Awards, Paszkowski and his team continue to innovate. Projects currently in production include a 55 metre Baglietto and a 50 metre Heesen. Paszkowski is also keen to support the next generation of superyacht designers, recently establishing a partnership with the Polytechnic University of Milan to offer a number of educational programmes for young designers aimed at supporting multicultural collaboration in an effort to enhance the designs of the future.

Francesco Paszkowski on outdoor furniture

When we’re working on a project it’s often assumed that the outside furniture is an easy part of the design process, but it’s not easy, you often have large pieces in a relatively small space so we have to adapt to ensure there’s balance. Tables are a big consideration. On Vertige we had a table for 12 people; it’s quite out of proportion in terms of the space around it, but it was important to the owner so we had to make it work. They wanted somewhere not just for dining but as somewhere they could sit around and socialise in the day. It has become the main feature on the upper deck. With outdoor furniture we’re always trying to find the right compromise between size, comfort, storage space and integration of technology. All of these things need to be considered while keeping the design streamlined. It’s important not to disturb the external lines of the boat, especially on the flight deck. If you have pieces with high or large volumes it can disturb the external lines of the boat and create an eyesore.

Every time we work on a project, we create bespoke pieces, many of which are adapted from the interior design. We want the same feel inside and out. On Vertige, we designed the table legs as a signature of the boat and these were used on the interior and exterior tables. A lot of the design details were taken from the automotive world. You can see that the deck is not a typical design. We worked very closely with the owner and created a deck area that combined glass – notably a glass bar – and stainless steel, brass and leather as the other main materials on the furniture. On Andiamo the owner didn’t want to use stone or rich materials but preferred surfaces in lacquer, a low-maintenance material in warm areas, so we took this into account when creating the outdoor pieces. If you compare Andiamo and Vertige, you see two very different boats that approach outdoor furniture in a completely different way. It demonstrates that each project is completely unique.

We have to take into consideration the swimming or spa pool in outside areas and how they relate to the furniture and space. On Andiamo we installed a large spa pool that was integrated with the bar area; on Vertige we integrated it into the sunbeds. This brought these areas together in a sociable way but also created space elsewhere.

The way people use their outdoor areas has changed, in part due to the charter industry, and this has thrown up new design challenges. The deck used to be where you had drinks, maybe relaxed on the sunbeds; now clients might want a teppanyaki grill, a big fridge, a wine cellar and the like. When boats are designed for charter, clients try to provide all the gadgets, so we try to integrate these into the outdoor furniture. When we use freestanding furniture, we look to the likes of Thibaut, Summit Furniture or Paola Lenti, depending on the style of the boat. They produce beautiful pieces.

We always recommend that clients leave as much free space as possible. It’s important to be able to move things and not include too much fixed furniture. Certain items like the bar or the spa pool will need to be fixed, but make use of free space. It’s about proportions. If you have the space you have more options, but never overfill a smaller boat.

This article was first published in Superyacht Interiors, buy your copy here.

Top image courtesy of Mark Sims

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