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What lies beneath: Francesca Muzio on superyacht flooring

27 February 2019

The designer – one half of the FM Architettura d’Interni design practice – believes the choice of flooring and carpets can make or break the experience of luxury on board your superyacht...

Francesca Muzio is the co-founder of FM Architettura d’Interni interior design firm, alongside Maria Silvia Orlandini. A cross-discipline designer, Muzio’s diverse portfolio ranges from the Signature Suites at the Shangri-La in London to private residences in Beirut and Beverly Hills, as well as superyacht refits such as the 52.4 metre Amore Mio II. The globally successful studio is known not so much for a signature style but rather for the passion it puts into understanding each client’s personality and lifestyle needs and translating this into a one-of-a-kind scheme.

Muzio (left) and business partner Maria Silvia Orlandini

Muzio studied architecture in Genoa and Barcelona before obtaining a Masters in business administration and marketing from the University of Bologna. She began her design career at 5+1 Architetti Associati, collaborating with Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Atelier Chaix & Morel and Rudy Ricciotti on residential and commercial design projects across the globe.

Growing up in Portofino, Muzio has always had a passion for the sea, but her career working with boats was established when she joined the interior design practice of architect Giacomo Mortola and began designing for P&O Princess Cruises Los Angeles. In 2001, she joined the Ferretti GroupCRN and Custom Line – and remained there as the creative director of the Interior Design Department for just under 10 years. FM Architettura d’Interni was founded in 2009. The studio, which now employs a team of 25 talented people, is located in Le Marche, a region of Italy known for its abundance of local artisans and craftsmen.

The main saloon of Amore Mio II. Photo courtesy of Alberto Cocchi

Francesca Muzio on carpets and flooring

When you enter a boat, you enter without your shoes and so your very first experience of luxury comes from underfoot; flooring certainly can’t be an after thought. Even when you’re walking into the boat, through the lobby or into bedrooms, you enter with your feet before you enter with your eyes, so it’s not just a matter of design or aesthetics, it’s a really important part of the experience.

The first question I ask the client is what sort of atmosphere they want to set; wood, carpet or stone can all set a very different tone. It’s also important to consider the lifestyle of the owner. Do they have children? Or pets? Do they want to avoid silk carpets as they’re harder to clean, for instance?

The flooring can be a backdrop or it can be the main feature. For instance if you choose to have a vibrant, patterned carpet this will form the DNA of the room, but you may prefer to go for something more muted and allow the pieces of furniture in the room to be the focal point. The latter will also be the case if you choose a simple wooden floor.

Inside Amore Mio II. Photo courtesy of Alberto Cocchi

Owners sometimes like to link the inside and outside spaces on a boat, and flooring is a way to do this. We’ll often continue teak flooring inside, so you feel the continuation underfoot. It’s a beautifully warm and soft material.

Carpets are still very popular and we will often design them bespoke; I think the feel of carpet underneath your feet will always be luxurious. We’ve made some beautiful carpets for past projects. On Polar Star, the owner’s favourite destination was the Caribbean so we worked with Tai Ping to create a beautiful stair carpet inspired by the colours and rippling waves of the Caribbean Sea. On Amore Mio II, we blended wool and silk threads using different looping and pile techniques to create a three-dimensional effect that you can feel under your feet as you walk across it; it’s very relaxing. I don’t like visible seams in a carpet so we will always try to produce one huge piece. The challenge is then to get such a large carpet on board – it took 14 people to install the one we created for Paris.

A dark meteorite marble floor with a leather finish adds depth to Waku’s main saloon

Nature provides some beautiful materials for flooring. On Waku, we used a black meteorite stone floor that was cut to resemble parquet, with a leather finish. In this instance, the owners wanted a dramatic change in atmosphere when walking from the deck into the saloon and this was achieved by the difference in feel underfoot. It also looked incredibly beautiful. On the same boat we used a marble floor in the staircase lobby. It was cut in a particular way to give the same effect as sand in a bottle, with layer upon layer of colour.

While some people might think it strange to use marble flooring on a boat, I think it works very well, if used with consideration. Of course, you need to treat the stone to make sure it isn’t slippery, but you also need to install underfloor heating, as marble will be far too cold without this.

The striking staircase lobby on Waku, where the stone was designed to appear like sand in a bottle

We have combined materials on the floor before. In the main saloon on Polar Star, we had a wooden floor with a stone mosaic circle at its centre. It was created using an ancient Roman technique. Each piece of stone is 3mm or less and each individual piece refracts the light at its own angle. It was intended to bring the sparkle of the sea into the space.

Whatever you choose for flooring, you need to consider the maintenance of the material. People on board have to feel free to walk across it, and have a glass of wine without fear of spilling and ruining it. A boat needs to be liveable in.

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