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Top yacht designers pick their favourite piece of design

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Superleggera chair

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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.

Photo: Gio Ponti Archives

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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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2002 Porsche 911 4S

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Words by Andre Hoek

Design is valuable when it stands the test of time. Few manufactured items retain their design appeal for more than a few years and many quickly become outdated. Not so the Porsche 911, a genuine style icon that not only has survived for more than 50 years but is still being built to virtually the same design. For me, this is a car that looks right from all angles, is beautiful in its own right and still turns heads young and old. I have owned a Porsche Targa and presently own a 911 4S, a car that is 15 years old, but still looks like new — it could have taken shape on the drawing board yesterday.

The combination of sheer power and beauty is intoxicating. Just setting eyes on these cars is always a joy and to drive them is one of the most exhilarating experiences on wheels. Performance is virtually unmatched. The Porsche 911 was for many years one of the most powerful sports cars on the road. It possesses phenomenal acceleration; it can take a corner at very high speeds and holds the road like a limpet. The combination of brilliant styling and engineering to produce an adrenalin-pumping performance is worthy of considerable respect. Few 54-year-old designs have achieved that.

I am not a car fanatic but I do appreciate design that is timeless and works for the end user. I like to think that the design work emanating from Hoek Design produces yachts with genuinely appealing looks that will still melt the heart in 50 years’ time. The pleasure derived from owning a thing of beauty is something upon which one cannot put a price. But it is fair to say that brilliant design will always hold its value. The Porsche 911 is evidence of that.

First published in the June 2017 edition of Boat International. Photo: Alamy

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