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Top yacht designers pick their favourite piece of design

Top yacht designers pick their favourite piece of design

1
/17

Steinway Model M

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Words by Adriana Monk, creative director of Monk Design

It was Steinway’s 150th anniversary celebration and I was keen to learn more about its instruments – I never thought I would walk out of the company’s Detroit showroom owning a 1929 grand piano. When I sat down to play the satin ebony Model M there was an immediate emotional connection, a magical moment resonating with the rich, warm tone of the Steinway sound. Taking lessons on it was incredibly satisfying.

My piano was instrumental in the formation of an amateur jazz band with my fellow car designers and engineers. That was how we all weathered Detroit: music and friendship, harmony and laughter.

It has since followed me around the world and decided where I live, claiming its own space. It has travelled by air in a custom crate with time-sensitive impact indicators, as well as endangered species documents, and currently commands a view of the Mediterranean in a 19th century villa.

The soundboard is carved from Sitka spruce, the most resonant wood available, and the artisans who manually carve and taper its edges autograph the soundboard after installation. Aside from being a beautiful sculpture, the piano enhances my design sensibility: playing channels my energy, providing fresh perspectives. It is fascinating to think of all the stories it could tell. Hopefully, once we part company, it will live on for many more years, to be played with passion and loved for its beauty.

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/17

Superleggera chair

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Photo: Gio Ponti Archives

Words by Francesca Muzio, co-founder of FM Architettura d’Interni

My mother bought me this chair for my desk when I was a child. I was completely fascinated by it: incredibly light, yet so resistant. As I studied architecture I came to appreciate it, and all of its nuances, even more. Today, these are the chairs that surround my dining room table.

The idea of a super-light chair was developed nearly two centuries ago in the town where I was born, Chiavari, near Portofino. There are legends about the chairs being tested by throwing them out of the window. In 1957, Gio Ponti was inspired by the Chiavarina chair to design his most famous chair, the Superleggera.

Ponti’s design is the result of endless experimentation — nothing was assumed. Every angle, joint and sculpted curve was carefully adjusted, and the backrest even inclines backwards, proving he had an understanding of the way the body really rests. The resulting simplicity, and weight of only 1.7kg, is anything but banal.

I have a profound appreciation for lightness in design. It emphasises the people and their interactions that fill the space, rather than making the object dominant. With the Superleggera, the light is invited into the space and people are encouraged to move freely, effortlessly rearranging the chairs on a whim.

To me the success of the design in the end lies in the dual respect for body and space, which is why I believe that the Superleggera is the best representation of Italian design in the world.

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/17

Screwpull LM-400

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Words byDonald Starkey

I had a very modest upbringing so it was not until my mid-teens, having started my first job as an architect’s office junior, that I first tasted a decent bottle of wine. Fortunately, I developed a taste for it and have been drinking wine ever since — it has fuelled my creative juices on many occasions.

Good wines need a corkscrew; it can be so frustrating when you do not have a decent one. I have had success with the cheap, old fashioned penknife type — bottle between the knees and pull. There have been many versions designed since — mechanical, electrically operated and elaborate, such as the amazing bottle opening sculpture designed by Rob Higgs in 2006. But the one that has become my favourite is the Screwpull LM-400. It is a simple, cast engineered aluminium tubular device presented in an elegant, velvet lined black leather case.

It was some 10 years ago, after we had made a successful client presentation on a 60 metre yacht project, celebrating with a glass of wine with my friend and business colleague Kevin Glancy, that the subject of corkscrews came up. We each gave our ideas of what the perfect one should be. On my next birthday Kevin presented me with a Screwpull LM-400, which has been cherished and used ever since.

Practical, functional and so very simple to use, it appeals to me as good design. Placed over a standing bottle, held around the bottle top with the left hand, the lever is pulled over the top of the bottle as far as it can go with the right hand, then swung back over and the cork is free. It works every time, even through capped corks. Life would just not be the same without it.

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