It takes a certain level of bravery to gaze on the top-quality interior of a yacht and dream of gutting it all. But that’s just what Dôme Project Interiors did with its first ever superyacht project, the 54.3-metre Spirit from Amels.
Spirit: On board the refitted 55 metre Amels superyacht
In a refit that began with ambitions simply to move the furniture around, the small Swiss designer ended up stripping the interior back to bare walls and floors. And the most impressive part? It took just three months, at the height of restrictions over Covid-19.
Built in 2011, Spirit originally had an interior by the renowned Nuvolari Lenard. “It was extremely masculine,” says Dôme founder Cécile Demole. “It was a boat designed by a great designer for a man. But you didn’t have the feeling of being on a boat – you had the feeling of being in a flat. It was dark and all the lines were very square.”
The new owners were clear on their brief. “We wanted to have the real feeling of being close to the water with the sea codes like coral and sea horses, while keeping some masculine touches like the outside seating,” they tell me.
So Demole, whose previous projects run from Belgravia townhouses to villas on the French Riviera, chose soft, calming colours and blended them with natural materials. “Blues, greens and whites combine to reflect the many different hues of the ocean,” she explains. “Decorative seashell accents bring the beauty of the marine world inside. Coral is also a distinct part of the design scheme, with its colour or shape echoed on throws, cushions and bespoke silk carpets.”
She also redesigned the way the boat is lit. First of all, the use of lighter colours in panelling and upholstery reflects and magnifies the natural light that pours in through Spirit’s large windows. “The shimmering reflection of sun on water is drawn into interior spaces,” she says. Then she commissioned numerous bespoke lamps, reflecting the marine theme.
If light and the ocean were two of the guiding themes of the refit, family life was another, as the new owners plan to cruise widely with their family, and the yacht is also chartered through Y.CO. Dôme installed completely new audiovisual equipment from Mr Smith in each cabin and in the main saloon to improve family film nights. They also made sure that there was space for a huge range of new toys in the cavernous garage.
Remarkably, the whole refit was accomplished during lockdown. The initial work – mainly gutting – was done by three technicians who crossed the Atlantic with Spirit in February. Thanks to a long-standing relationship between skipper Marc Damette and Monaco Marine, the yacht was then moored in La Ciotat, even though all the work was done by Dôme’s external contractors.
It took rigorous planning to keep things proceeding safely, and at first, people came by themselves. “To protect the crew from coronavirus, we had to be instrumental on how people would work and how they would interact,” explains Damette. “There were all the extra precautions with masks and taking temperatures in the morning.”
Thanks to the “military operation”, the boat was ready in the first week of June. Then it was just a case of unpacking the furniture and soft furnishings, all of which had been readied remotely by Dôme. Damette says it would not have been possible without his tight-knit crew. “I’ve been with most of my senior crew for seven years. We all knew what to do and how to do it.”
With her soul now reinvigorated, it seems as if the boat’s explorer spirit is set to get a work-out too. The owners were able to enjoy four summer weeks of cruising around the Côte d’Azur, Corsica and Sardinia.
But they also plan to unleash the boat’s globetrotting potential. “Our next destinations are definitely Alaska and Galápagos,” they tell me. “Not to mention the Exumas in the Bahamas that we love so much.”
This feature is taken from the November 2020 issue of BOAT International. Get this magazine sent straight to your door, or subscribe and never miss an issue.