Mr Loui: Inside the Benetti 116 Mediterraneo's Family-Centric Design
by Miranda Blazeby
The design brief for Mr Loui was a juggling act that placed family firmly at its heart and demanded interior styling that would both satisfy and unite the varied tastes of the owner’s extensive family. Having previously collaborated on two Benetti models, designers Ezequiel Farca and Cristina Grappin were an obvious choice to work on the second 35.5 metre yacht in the yard’s 116 Mediterraneo series, which was delivered in November 2018.
Farca and Grappin were tasked with designing a “timeless and harmonious” theme for the adults on board, but with colours and spaces that appealed to children. They had to cater for the frenzied flurries of family life and the subsequent lulls that followed. There could be 15 people on board of all ages - babies, kids and teenagers - or just two of the same generation. The design, both inside and out, had to cater for all occasions that could arise from such a generational fusion of guests, while not neglecting the practicality of everyday living.
“From the start, family life was the guideline for the whole project,” Farca recalls. “The client spends more than half the year on board and has a big family with members of all generations.” The pair, who together run the Ezequiel Farca and Cristina Grappin design studio, achieved this by balancing “neutral colours in interior spaces with colourful exterior areas,” according to Grappin. They combined this with high quality materials and Italian craftsmanship.
“We’ve said it before and we will keep saying it, Italian craftsmen are amazing,” Grappin insists. Natural light played a key role in the development of the interior, which features standout items such as a custom-made Swarovski chandelier, specifically designed by Farca, and a TV in the living area subtly hidden by engraved mirror panels.
The marble details, which are present throughout the yacht are especially “impeccable”, she says. The dining table is custom-made in Sahara Noir marble while Matrix marble has been built around the custom barbeque grill bar and side cabinets. The three main steps in the staircase are crafted from Statuario marble, enabling them to take on a sculptural quality. This same marble is repeated throughout the boat with different finishes. It appears again in the master shower with a leather finish and book match cut, where it takes on a matte silk look. After creating the classic, stylish design, Farca and Grappin used navy blue to connect it with the contrasting colourful, family-friendly spaces.
“We needed a colour that would help us ‘join’ the fun, colourful elements with the rest of the design - navy blue did that for us,” Farca says. “Then we added some turquoise and orange accents.” While intended for the younger members of the family, these colourful, fun spaces inadvertently caught the eye of the owner. His favourite area on the whole yacht is the “charming” seating area on the upper aft deck, which is populated with green, white, yellow and pink tones.
The family-oriented brief permeated beyond the soft furnishings and even resulted in significant changes to the yacht’s layout. The owner specifically requested a “liveable galley”. The consequently extended space is much larger than the galley of the first yacht in the semi-custom series, Oli. “The galley modification was interesting because it’s an area that clients don’t usually pay a lot of attention to,” Grappin says. “They needed a place where the kids could gather to enjoy a casual breakfast with family.”
Additionally, the owner decided to do away with a set of crew stairs leading to the pantry serving the sky lounge in favour of a superyacht elevator which provides access to all three decks. This family-centric brief, which saw the owner customise the yacht to her limits, handed both designers an unconstrained challenge. “Doing this type of project has always been so much fun,” Grappin reflects, “because, as a designer, it allows you to dream and propose without any restraints.”