Out in the open: Bernardo Zuccon on outdoor furniture for superyachts
The Italian designer has seen owners’ needs evolve and trends change over the years, but maintaining a stylistic flow between interior and exterior remains key
Quintessential Italian family business Zuccon International Project was set up in 1984 by Giovanni and Paola Zuccon, who met as architecture students in Rome in the 1970s and, among many other projects, began designing yachts. A long-term arrangement with Ferretti emerged in 1991, which led to the Ferretti 54, followed by the design of a number of other models for various brands within the Ferretti Group. These include the Custom Line range of superyachts and projects for CRN such as the 80-metre Chopi Chopi, the Navetta 43 and three 60 metres: Givi, Darlings Danama and J’Ade.
Since then, the founders’ children, Martina and Bernardo, have joined the business. Zuccon Superyacht Design was created with the siblings at the helm, responsible for creating yachts for Ferretti’s clients. Bernardo has had a hand in a huge portfolio of projects including a 45-metre from Picchiotti (now Perini Navi), the new Heritage range with the 55-, 65- and 75-metre Heritage projects for Perini Navi, and the new Sanlorenzo metal range, starting with the Sanlorenzo 44 Alloy, which debuted at last year’s Cannes Yachting Festival.
His style is to integrate internal and external living areas and create multi-purpose spaces, always with a view to develop our relationship with the sea.
Bernardo Zuccon on outdoor furniture
“I often say that the superyacht has become like a blank canvas, because the focus is now on loose furniture, whereas historically furniture was always fixed. In part, this is because we’re living in different times. Years ago, if you had a yacht you had time to spend on board. Now that’s changed. Everything is fast, and clients might only be on board for a few days each year. Yachts are chartered more and as a result the deck’s ‘canvas’ is often kept clean and simple and loose furniture added so that each person can create their own ideal environment. Today if we design a main deck, upper deck and sundeck,we avoid fixed furniture so that the owner or charter client can adapt the space as they wish.
With loose furniture, the issue of stability is key. You have to remember you’re on a boat, not in a penthouse. You’re always in touch with the sea – and we should all be afraid of the sea. Weather and conditions can change quickly, so creating a space with stability and choosing the right kind of furniture is important.
That said, when I design a yacht my first point is not just where to put things. It’s the skyline of the yacht: the proportions, the volumes within and the overall style. These then feed into the interior design. The Sanlorenzo 44 Alloy, for example, has the same feeling on the sofas as on its profile. Every outdoor area is stylistically linked.
Also, zoning within the vessel is very important. Now we want a social space, a relaxing space, even a meditation space. The owner of today is very different to the owner of 20 years ago and has different needs. A big current trend is yoga, which has become a common point in our design.
People tire of things quickly and clients’ needs change every week, so it’s important to offer different environments. On the 45-metre sailing yacht Heritage, we created flexible space in the outdoor area as people want to use it in different ways: during the day for an informal lunch table; in the evening enclosed with a fireplace. It’s about flexibility of use, the mingling of exterior and interior and good use of natural materials. The relationship between the outdoor and indoor is particularly vital as people really want to feel like they’re in the wilderness, making that wonderful connection with the sea and landscape. Flow is a favourite word of mine. You have to create flows on board, bearing in mind that you will have a group of people working and another group enjoying their time on board. It’s important that spaces are clean and connections are easy.
Traditionally, yacht furnishings were in white leather. Now the trend for clients is to use colour, texture and organic materials. If you think about Paola Lenti or Sabrina, the leaders on the market in loose furniture, they play with colours. The materials very often come from waterproof materials that work both inside and out, and which feel tough and natural. Sometimes they are recycled. To me, this is a good direction.
Every yacht tells a different story. Sanlorenzo was my first client and one of the first to explore modern design on board, so 44 Alloy is very innovative with many flexible outdoor spaces. We’re also working on a 56-metre project for a US client who only wants fixed furniture, as he’s aiming to spend one month a year on board. So there are no hard rules – in the end it’s about each client. Personally, I’m still waiting for someone to create better outdoor furniture that has storage space within. That’s my challenge for furniture companies.”