The revered designer celebrates exciting new fibres with a focus on sustainability as well as developments in customisation that allow for increasing creativity
A career in superyachts was not an unlikely path for Tommaso Spadolini. The son of Italian architect Pierluigi Spadolini, he spent his younger years racing and sailing yachts as well as learning the trade of his father in penning them – in the early 1960s Pierluigi collaborated with Cantieri di Pisa to design their entire range including, notably, the Akhir series.
In 1978 Spadolini set up his own studio and created his first independent designs for Barberis and Canados. Then, in 1992 he was chosen from a pool of designers to design the Spanish Royal yacht, Fortuna. As well as continuing the family’s relationship with Cantieri di Pisa, he has gone on to work with a diverse range of shipyards, from Baglietto and Rossinavi to Aprea, Otam, Wally and Serigi on both new build and refit projects.
From his studio in Florence, Spadolini still starts all of his projects with a hand-drawn sketch, believing this to be the only way to convey the ”soul” of the idea. The Tommaso Spadolini style is timeless and classic with a focus on clean lines and elegant functionality. The designer also believes in synergy between the interior and exterior design of the boat.
Tommaso Spadolini on textiles
“Textiles are one of the most important elements in the interior design of a yacht as the choice of materials reflects the project as a whole. They must be of the utmost quality to represent luxury, and also convey the design mood. As well as reflecting the boat’s aesthetic, textiles can help to bring different spaces on the boat together. You can select different designs or colours for different areas to allow for a change in the atmosphere or environment, but still create coherence throughout. Generally speaking, unless the owner has very specific requests, we aim for quite a co-ordinated look across the interior and exterior areas, while ensuring that every single space is dressed according to its particular feature and use.
The most significant development in textiles over the last few years has been the increase in what’s now possible – there is so much flexibility in customisation. If you look at leather, the colours available, the designs and even its thickness, it has come a long way. Being based in Tuscany, we’re at the heart of the traditional leather industry so we have access to the best manufacturers in terms of quality and innovation.
It’s an exciting time for textiles. We are getting some really interesting proposals from manufacturers, and the special finishes and colour ranges are exceptionally innovative. We’ve also come across a number of companies that are looking into the creation of completely new fibres, with a special focus on sustainability. There is still a lot of research and development to be done in ensuring these new textiles have the durability required for the superyacht market. But I would say that the demand is certainly there; a lot of owners are asking for eco-friendly materials, and it’s clear that they are becoming more sensitive to the impact of materials on the environment.
We work with so many different suppliers that I would be wary of singling anyone out, but there is so much quality choice now available. We tend to work with suppliers who are able to meet our requirements in terms of customisation, as it is important for us to provide something individual to our clients.
For Gigagi, we undertook a total refit, and the entire boat was completely redesigned even down to the bulkheads. It was memorable for its use of textiles because we really focused on customisation. It was our first project where every single element was bespoke and the level of design was beyond anything we’ve done before. We used a lot of leather, and incorporated a pattern that was repeated across all of the leather applications. For fabrics, everything we chose for a particular area of the boat was then designed and printed or embroidered specifically to match that area. The project was over a period of almost six or seven years; we paid a great level of attention to detail. It was a similar story with 2 Ladies, where all of the textile finishes and designs were highly customised so everything was completely unique to that project.
When it comes to boats that will be used for charter we are restricted slightly by the regulations in place, but for superyachts intended solely for private use, the sky’s the limit.”