09 July 2014
A new Frontier - Benetti Design Innovation
When Italian yacht builder Benetti asked the international design world to develop new concepts for its custom yachts ranging from 50m to 90m plus, based on existing Benetti platforms, the outcome was a ‘coup de theatre’ – something never seen before. And it seems this creative initiative – which saw 16 designers give new life to a fascinating journey of style, ideas and direction in yacht design – has been met with enthusiasm, with negotiations igniting on some of the designs.
The main goal of Benetti Design Innovation was to blaze a trail into the requirements of the next generation of superyacht owners and to have at hand a range of projects to offer clients. However, it was also a great marketing gimmick that confirms the yard’s commitment to excellence. Established designers including Bannenberg & Rowell, Luiz De Basto, Evan K Marshall, Nauta Design, and newcomers such as Palomba Serafini and Marco Casali approached the challenge with ingenuity and unrestrained imagination. Vincenzo Poerio, CEO of Benetti’s Megayachts Business Unit, says he was cultivating the idea of a design contest for years. “As devotees of novelty, evolution and challenge, we have no alternative than looking ahead, creating new trends,” he says. “This initiative is meant to be an opportunity for the yard, but also for a large number of designers to showcase their ideas. Evolving the design, the style and the strong family feeling imprinted on Benetti yachts by 140 years of history is not easy...but we love a challenge. Sixteen reputed yacht designers and naval architects enthusiastically joined our initiative, designing fine interpretations of Benetti’s future megayachts. We have had the opportunity to show a lot of these projects to clients in recent months, and they are getting a positive response and some negotiations have already started.” To appreciate fully the final result of the Benetti Design Innovation initiative, it is pivotal to know that submissions by the designers had to take into account Benetti’s heritage and style, and this was not an easy task. As we all know, all custom yachts by Benetti are easily identifiable due to a number of features such as the fashion plate (the ‘Benetti wing’) or the flared bow introduced by Benetti’s historical designer Stefano Natucci and cohesively developed throughout Benetti’s custom yachts production. It is also worth underlining the Benetti Design Innovation was not a mere proof of concept or a brain-storming session: all participants were asked to develop full projects, interior style and GA included, on the basis of precise parameters given by the yard. Despite their heterogeneity, most yachts share great purity of lines. By analysing the submitted projects, you will notice increased research for a close connection with the sea (large beach areas, balconies, for example) combined with attention to external areas. An extensive use of glazing allowing a lot of light in, as well as spectacular views out, underlines such a trend. Most projects also include some sort of spa area, whether it be a multi-purpose wellness or fitness room or a full deck relaxation retreat encompassing hammam, pool and massage room. An ever-increasing flexibility of the interior spaces and versatile layouts clearly show the aim to provide each owner with a yacht made to measure. Speaking with the visionary designers behind several projects included in the Benetti Design Innovation collection, another interesting pattern emerges: a smooth transition from exterior to interior really does happen on most projects in a seamless manner. This is the case of Edge, the 72m yacht submitted by Nauta/Mario Pedol. Still under the limelight due to the recent launch of their ground-breaking design of the world’s largest yacht, Azzam, Nauta Design’s contribution to Benetti Design Innovation is an elegant yacht with clean, sharp geometric lines incorporating an angular version of the ‘Benetti wing’. On board Edge, large outdoor areas on all decks and three terraces at sea level ensure close contact to the sea offering magnificent views over the surrounding landscape. Another project that’s pivotal concept is the close relationship between interior and exterior spaces is Innovation, an 80m by Bannenberg & Rowell. The Monaco-based studio produced a highly contemporary design boasting a spectacular beach club accessed from the main deck through an open tread stairwell. This is hidden in a transparent pyramid structure which provides the area below with plenty of natural light. On a smaller scale, the 50m Beach concept sets the standards of a series of four models up to 91m proposed by Cor D Rover. With a contemporary exterior design, vertical bow, extended aft section of the main deck with a huge swimming pool and refreshing interior style, Cor D Rover brought the essence of comfort and wellbeing into a 50m yacht. As a whole, the Benetti Design Innovation’s large portfolio of projects is a rare opportunity to compare styles and visions of what will be the future of yacht design in the coming years, not only for Benetti. As well as helping to understand what some of the most talented designers worldwide have up their sleeves, the initiative provides a clue towards Benetti’s attitude and capability to strengthen its leading position in the global market.