For four years the superyacht industry has been in flux. With the exception of a few of the oldest marque yards, most builders have evolved to survive and are re-emerging now as leaner, more flexible, more responsive businesses.
ISA Yachts’ 54.5-metre steel and aluminium motor yacht Forever One, due for launch from the Ancona yard in June, is an example of a builder developing with courage and insight, in an unexpected direction.
‘It’s the first fully custom yacht by ISA Yachts, the first big challenge we’ve taken in this category,’ says Gianluca Fenucci, head of project management and co-founder of ISA Yachts. ‘We’ve always based our yachts on platforms and every platform was customised with the client. But this client made a proposal that was totally custom. We were looking for business and had a team that could do this. Also, we saw the (industry’s) future was going in the direction of more customised builds. Those who were [being successful] were flexible enough, without taking too much of a risk. So we said OK, we feel strong enough for this.’
This decision was bolstered by a solid external team. Not only did the yard feel confident in the experienced owner and his vision, but he also came to them via Camper & Nicholsons scion Fernando Nicholson, who supported the build expertly throughout, along with the captain and project surveyor Colin Skinner. Horacio Bozzo, of Axis Group Yacht Design, was attached for design and naval architecture, while interior designer Alessandro Massari of Studio Massari joined soon after signing. ‘The owner wanted a yacht that looked different,’ says Bozzo. ‘This is totally different to other ISA yachts – they have their own family look, which is more classic.’
Of all the yard’s designs she is perhaps most reminiscent of the 50 metre Granturismo, largely due to her vertical bow. But as well as unusual red flourishes in the paint job – tributes to Ferrari and Coca-Cola, respectively the owner’s passion and business – Forever One has a much more substantial, almost architectural look.
This is partly due to the yacht’s prodigious 1,050 gross tonne volume – she has an extra deck and two metres in beam on the Granturismo. ‘[The owner] wanted us to build something on which he could live for the next 10, 15 years with his wife, family and best friends,’ says Fenucci. ‘A big traveller to go around the world in.’
Thus the yacht is expected to be MCA approved for unrestricted navigation, and two Caterpillar 3512 C engines will offer a 2,500 nautical mile range at 14.5 knots. But a relaxed and cosy lifestyle was also vital. ‘He wanted very loungy spaces,’ says Bozzo. ‘That’s why on the main deck forward, where you would normally have the master cabin, we have this huge dining and relaxing area, with a bar. There’s no formal dining area, it’s like a beach house.’
At the aft end of the same deck the main saloon offers different seating arrangements, so some can watch a film on the cinema screen, and others still watch TVs that pop up from coffee tables. The space can even be turned into a dance floor.
The large sun deck is also a multi-functional, social area, with an aft spa pool and lounging space, dining table, a bar and a more private round of seating. The beach club, with a bar, fold-down balcony and table offers another nook. ‘They have a lot of experience so they know the importance of having space for guests,’ says Bozzo. ‘You don’t want to spend a lot of time all together, very close.’
Indeed, Forever One’s design also takes account of the need for privacy. Aft of the upper deck is the owner’s private area, with only the wheelhouse and captain’s cabin in the forward portion. The suite has a central cabin with full-height French windows to port, shower room with natural light and two walk-in wardrobes. Most appealing is the small aft sitting room, with an office and armchairs looking through windows to a private terrace. Again, it is intimate, relaxed and residential. ‘It could be a private apartment, a second house on the yacht,’ says Massari.
But the owner made sure equal importance was given to crew quarters. Six large twin crew cabins, all with en suites, take up the forward half of the lower deck.
Back in the guest areas, Massari’s interior design complements the relaxed layout. ‘It’s a Hamptons, American style, reinterpreted in a modern way,’ he says. ‘All the areas are different: wall panels and small details are different – but all are connected in style. For example the guests cabins are pretty much the same but each has its own colour because the clients wanted to have “the red cabin,” “the blue cabin,” and “the chocolate cabin”.’
The colours in social areas will be neutral, white panelling, dark stained oak floors, upholstery in cream, blue and chocolate, with furniture designed by Massari himself, Poliform or Minotti. ‘Our goal was to have a warm feeling, we enjoyed playing with soft materials, suede, leather, as well as basket weaves and raffia – natural materials – to have a cosy atmosphere,’ says Massari.
Forever One’s owner was particular about such finer points. ‘We spent many hours looking at every detail,’ says Bozzo. ‘He knows how tall his wardrobe should be because of the shirts. The amount of time they spent thinking and helping us, the interior and exterior – they took me to their houses to see how they live.’
Massari also found the owners’ openness helped achieve the level of customisation required. ‘The drawers had to be designed according to his sweaters,’ he says. ‘So I took measurements of all his sweaters when folded.’
For ISA Yachts, Forever One’s customisation required a completely new approach to many aspects of the build. ‘The bow, with all the anchor pockets, challenged us to be technically able to do something we hadn’t done before,’ says Fenucci, ‘The hatches and sliding doors open using electro-mechanical systems integrated into the side, all developed for this application. Nothing was standard. The most difficult thing was to manage all these processes on time, because we plan to launch the project at the end of June: we are talking about a 900-plus tonne yacht, 100 per cent custom, developed, produced, delivered in 30 months.’
But the results, it seems, have pleased the owner who says the designer, interior design team and yard fully understood their special living style. ISA Yachts is proving well adapted to the landscape of the new superyacht market.