Javier Sordo Madaleno's fantastically light-filled Sanlorenzo yacht O
by Rebecca Cahilly
Not your average owner
Considering who owns the Sanlorenzo called O, it’s no wonder she’s gorgeous. “I’m not your regular customer who only wants to select colours and soft furnishings,” says Javier Sordo Madaleno, head of what is arguably the most influential architecture firm in Mexico and the yacht’s owner.
“I wanted to have more say in the design and layout. I admired the craftsmanship of the Sanlorenzo builds and I liked that Max (Sanlorenzo’s president, Massimo Perotti) and I shared the same passion for finishes and the same vision for the completely different ambiences that you can create in a yacht. He was willing to go the extra mile with me with this boat, so that made my decision very clear.”
O’s flexible design
O is a sleek and powerful presence at the dock, yet she also conveys a relaxed feel. Her curved side-deck doors and lateral window shape are attributes she shares with other boats in this brand-new SD112 series, but Madaleno’s influence is immediately noticeable, too. He worked closely with the builder and designers on the markedly low profile of this tri-deck and her exterior styling relates closely to the spirit of her interior, wherein each space invites lounging.
“The vision for O was to create a very flexible environment,” says Madaleno. “Sometimes boats have too many rooms and spaces that are underutilised. My philosophy was to create interesting spaces that could be used for different purposes; this also creates the feeling of a much larger boat.”
My philosophy was to create interesting spaces that could be used for different purposes; this also creates the feeling of a much larger boat
Her name also has a deeper meaning. “I like the idea of the sun and moon; they are round – the world, planet earth, it is all round. ‘O’ in pronunciation also sounds the same as the French word eau, which means water,” says Madaleno. “The logo is the name O, a small boat that travels with light.”
O is beyond the standard series boat
This is Madaleno’s fourth and largest yacht to date. Although O is technically hull No.1 of the SD112 series, she was the third boat to launch. “Normally, we may do 25 to 30 renders of a space that an owner wants to customise,” says George Jousma, Sanlorenzo’s president of the Americas. “With O, hundreds were the norm.”
Did this elaborate and lengthy design process create tension? During the 19-month build, Madaleno says he and Perotti in fact became very good friends: “I’m a designer, an architect, and I enjoy the planning and building process as much as using the boat.”
The standard aft deck configuration for Sanlorenzo’s semi-displacement 112 series features a semi-circular door that leads into an interior foyer and bar area. For O, Madaleno instead specified larger aft doors that recess into side pockets, allowing a seamless transition between the exterior and interior. The aft deck includes a television and seating area with a lounge sofa that the owner had widened, the first hint of the design’s unspoken invitation for guests to lie down and relax.
In the main saloon, two low and oversized Edra sofas serve as multipurpose focal points. Large fold-down balconies extend the space to port and starboard, and the entire room is wired for the ultimate in sound and lighting quality.
O’s inviting layout
The standard layout situates the main dining area on the upper aft deck, enclosed within semi-circular retractable glass doors. Madaleno decided against this: instead he imagined a flexible interior dining space as an invisible part of the main saloon. Table panels are hidden in plain sight within the saloon’s forward bulkhead, and the sofas can be easily moved around to form a more formal arrangement. The bulkhead itself serves as an artistic feature, with a textured covering of resin and metal, designed and installed by Italian studio ORK.
“When we want to dine here, we bring out the table and put the tablecloth on top; it becomes a magnificent centrepiece of the boat with both balconies open,” says Madaleno.
“It’s fantastic because you have the reflection of the ocean; at night it’s the cosiest place to have dinner.
“With the right lighting and music, the space changes dramatically,” he adds. “This is the whole concept that we had for the yacht: the saloon can be a light, relaxing lounge during the day, a cosy movie theatre at night, as well as an elegant dining space on the sea.”
Immediately forward of the main deck foyer, the owner’s area begins where the dayhead would normally be found. The aim here was to create his-and-hers bathrooms, the first of which, housing the head, is found at the entrance, along with custom-designed wardrobes and her bathroom with shower. A custom bench with pivoting drawers and a hat-rack by Hermès take up the space to starboard. A long sofa is under the windows – yet another space that beckons one to recline and watch the television that pops up. Madaleno also incorporated a door that leads to a small forward seating area on the bow.
“That was very important on this boat. Usually you think full-beam gives you the view, but if you can open the door and have a private terrace for sunbathing or breakfast, you have the view and so much more.”
Another favourite spot for the owner is the upper saloon, where the standard dining arrangement was changed in favour of another seamless transition between interior and exterior with large pocket windows that open completely. Here Madaleno requested a ceiling of Tanganyika with a walnut stain that continues outdoors and lends warmth to the exterior space. A low, square soapstone dining table on this deck serves as an artistic focal point when not in use. “We designed the table to be about 13 centimetres lower than normal tables and incorporated very low seating, so when you look aft you don’t have a table and chairs in your line of sight, but rather an elegant sculptural piece.”
The challenges when building superyacht O
The O project was not without its challenges, even for an experienced architect and designer. On the sundeck the team incorporated a waterfall flowing from the radar arch into a spa pool. The original design did not call for a spa pool, so Madaleno and the design team worked very hard to incorporate it without altering the boat’s sleek profile. Part of the difficulty, he explains, was that to be comfortable and deep enough, the whirlpool needs to be surrounded by high walls. Yet he wanted to make it easily accessible from the surrounding low-profile sunpads. A smart solution was to work with the boat’s structure and the beams to gain depth seamlessly. “I’m proud of the end result,” says Madaleno.
Now that O is finished, “I try to spend as much time as I can on board,” he says, “as many as 60 to 70 nights a year.” Owners usually can be categorised as two distinct types: those who enjoy building their yachts and those who like to use them. While clearly Madaleno revelled in the design and build process, he appears to be a perfect balance of the two.