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Superyacht Design Festival 2022: Q&A with Zaniz of Zaniz Studio

1 April 2022 • Written by Katia Damborsky


Motor Yacht
Benetti ·  107.6 m ·  2020

Zaniz of Zaniz Studio, publicly most well-known for her interior and exterior work on Benetti's 107.6 metre Luminosity, will be taking to the stage at the Superyacht Design Festival 2022 to talk about responsive design on superyachts. The American-English designer is well-placed to speak on the subject, with one of Luminosity's most famous features being her 370 square metre interactive LED walls which stretch 18 metres across five decks. They usually feature butterflies (by day) or fireflies (by night) that follow you as you walk up or down the stairs. Ahead of Zaniz's appearance on the panel, BOAT catches up with her to learn more about this new frontier in yacht design.

What are the biggest challenges associated with responsive design (or immersive art) on superyachts?

For me, the biggest challenge is getting the infrastructure in place within a physical space. Every milimetre is precious real estate on a yacht and you need to address things like vibration and servers cooling.  There's a lot of responsive, immersive art that utilises projection, but on a superyacht there isn't enough space to do that, so if you want to avoid that you need the space behind the screen. I remember I had to push the wall out by 100 millimetres to add in more cooling. To address the vibration [...] [in the past] we had to work with engineers to have special mounts made. This new type of responsive design or immersive art requires a whole new team of people. It's not like I can go and buy a piece of art and stick it up on the wall, because you also have to realise on a boat [...] it needs to be maintained. As with all new technology, there's going to be teething pains, but I like to call it the development curve.

Luminosity's interactive LED walls

Do you think you and design teams are having to learn new disciplines to adapt to these new challenges?

I wouldn't say I had to learn new disciplines, but we have to explore options. If we take the big wall in the shaft [on Luminosity] as an example - back in 2011, I thought “why don't I try LG OLED panels that are super thin and don't provide the same heat loss?”. Unfortunately, OLED wasn't developed enough at that time. Even now you wouldn't be able to get the panels that big. But someday soon we’ll get there, it's just taking its time. It's a digital world with many new technologies and I think putting it all together is what the challenge is. All the technologies are so new and a lot of people are scared of trying them.

Why do clients like the idea of responsive design?

It's a new movement, it's a new frontier and one of the most exciting things about it for me is it allows us to become an active viewer. It allows us to inhabit a media artwork, so we have become the participant. When we’re immersed in a digital piece, you get this blurring of the physical and virtual worlds.

The groundbreaking 107.6m Luminosity

Are there any particular clients that you think gravitate more towards this type of design?

I think it’s universal. I’ve seen all age groups, all ethnicities [enjoy this type of art]. This is witnessed by the boom in museums around the world, showcasing immersive, interactive and responsive art. I mean, let's take one of the most known museums in the world, the Louvre - it's opening this site-specific exhibition space [for immersive art]. There's also the museum of the future that just opened in Dubai. New York City is getting a permanent immersive exhibition space, and its debut show is going to be Klimt. I'm being asked by a lot of media, "Do I think this is a fad?". No, I think this is [...] an art movement and it's going through a growing stage. I'm obviously not the only one that thinks so because Mark Zuckerberg believes so much in augmented and virtual reality, he's saying it's going to be a staple in our lives by 2030. That's eight years away. It's not so far off.

How do you think responsive design will shape the future of yacht design?

I think it's something that's always now going to be thought of at the beginning stage. However, what's really exciting for me, is on a practical side, is how AI and mixed reality, including augmented reality, is going to allow architects, designers and engineers to visualise their plans and the design that they have in their head. [One day] I will be able to walk through and solve problems before I build. I will have things like the ability to look at holographic 3D models of my space — the plumbing systems, mechanicals, engine room. I think it’s exciting because on a practical level, we’re going to be able to use this technology to help us with design.

What makes this such an interesting of design?

It allows us to dream and execute our dreams far beyond what we ever thought was possible. I don't like things that are static, and these responsive, immersive works are the opposite of static. In many cases where you read about some of this [immersive art] work they have algorithms programmed into them, so you will never see the same thing. It will continue to grow as an art piece because of its human interaction. So the interaction between the people and the installation causes a continuous change in the artwork. Therefore, you can never replicate something you may have seen five minutes earlier. If a child can get mesmerised and understand a painting of Van Gogh by seeing these giant sunflowers [in an interactive setting] and can gain some subconscious level of love for art, then it’s served its purpose.

Do you think that yachts and yacht designers are open to embracing these technologies more?

I don't know if it's at the forefront of a lot of designers’ minds. Not everybody, unless they are told about it, is going to want to go into that sphere. To me, if I've got a boat and you have somebody that's spending [extended periods of time on board], it's exciting if there are different areas and things that can move and change.

Zaniz will discuss the challenges of responsive design and the new applications of interactive technology alongside Sally Storey of Lighting Design International and Pantaleone Megna of Videoworks during the Responsive Design Panel on Friday 24 June at Superyacht Design Festival. 


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Benetti   107.6 m •  2020

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