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The Next Gen

Last September, Azimut and Benetti set out to debut a dozen models through early 2022. Here are three designers behind some of the new launches
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Alberto Mancini

“I am inspired by the history of the shipyard,” Mancini says of Azimut,  “never forgetting the DNA language of a brand before to imagine the future of it.”

“I am inspired by the history of the shipyard,” Mancini says of Azimut, “never forgetting the DNA language of a brand before to imagine the future of it.”

Alberto Mancini was born in 1978 in Trieste, Italy, and is a graduate of the IED Istituto Europeo di Design in Turin. His professional growth started with his work for Mauro Micheli at Officina Italiana Design, where Mancini was involved in high-profile projects for Riva Yachts — namely the Aquariva 33 and Rivarama 44.

Mancini gained more experience under Ken Freivokh in Britain, as part of the team that designed the 289-foot Perini Navi Maltese Falcon, one of the world’s largest sailing yachts.

In 2009, Mancini opened his eponymous studio, based in Monaco. In addition to his work with Azimut Yachts — he designed the exteriors of the Grande S10, S8 and 78 Flybridge — he has drawn vessels for Baglietto, Fairline Yachts, Magnum Marine, Mangusta, Otam and Overmarine.

The Mancini-designed Azimut Flybridge 53 premiered last month, with the 125-foot Azimut Grande Trideck scheduled to follow early this year.

Mancini was inspired by California beach houses when he created the alfresco space on the 94-foot Grande S10.  

Mancini was inspired by California beach houses when he created the alfresco space on the 94-foot Grande S10.  

What is your earliest memory of being interested in design?

Since I was a child, I have been sketching cars and yachts — an instinct and a passion I have developed during my summer holidays on board my family sailing yacht, cruising and exploring the Mediterranean Sea. I have been impressed by the yachting world and at the age of 6 promised myself that I’d become a designer.

What was your big break?

When I moved my design studio from Italy to Monaco — a new life, new dimension and a new era for my career.

Are there Azimut models from the past that you look to for inspiration?

I am inspired by the history of the shipyard. I [look to it] as heritage, but I push my concept to the extreme to innovate the Azimut design as much as possible, never forgetting the DNA language of a brand before to imagine the future of it.

Where else do you look for insight?

Automotive, art and travels are my three main inspirations. When I have a bit of time, I fly to Kauai [Hawai’i] or St. Barts, the best places in the world where you can meditate in silence merged in the wildest nature and experience the yachting life.

What are some of the key features of your designs?

I like to focus my energies and my creativity in designing clean lines, balanced proportions and warming minimalism.

What are some of the biggest challenges?

When a new yacht’s owner or a CEO [at a] shipyard asks you to create a new idea starting from scratch with a blank sheet of paper, and you feel the responsibility and the adrenaline on your hands while sketching the first concepts.

What do you think buyers will want in the next five to 10 years?

The new era of yachts will be more comfortable, more technological, environmentally friendly — all with timeless design.

Ken Freivokh

“My design work has been guided by analysis of the client’s brief … then coming up with unique solutions, rather than attempting to draw 
inspiration from existing designs.”

“My design work has been guided by analysis of the client’s brief … then coming up with unique solutions, rather than attempting to draw inspiration from existing designs.”

A native Californian, Ken Freivokh attended primary and secondary school in the United States and then went abroad. He studied engineering and architecture in Peru, then environmental and industrial design at the Royal College of Art in London.

When he was in England, a growing interest and active participation in yachting led him to combine his professional experience with a passion for the sea and yachts. He stayed in England and founded Ken Freivokh Design.

While he gained wide acclaim as chief designer on the 289-foot Perini Navi Maltese Falcon, he has collaborated on vessels from tenders to superyachts with Azimut, Icon, Oceanco, Rossinavi, Sunseeker and
Turquoise Yachts.

In addition to having penned the Azimut Magellano 25 Metri — which premiered stateside at the 2020 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show — Freivokh is the designer behind Azimut’s Grande 30 Metri and Magellano 30 Metri. The latter is slated to splash in late 2021.

The copious beach club on the Magellano 25 Metri. 

The copious beach club on the Magellano 25 Metri. 

How did you get started in yacht design?

After graduating as an architect in Peru, I was awarded a Duke of Edinburgh scholarship to carry out postgraduate studies at the School of Industrial Design at the Royal College of Art, London. While working as a designer in London following such studies, I commissioned the build of a racing sailing yacht on the agreement they would build it to my designs. The company asked me to design their complete boat lineup.

Later, Fairline Boats similarly requested my help to design the new Squadron range of motor­yachts, and then Sunseeker contracted me as their exclusive designer for the following 13 years.

What was your big break?

I guess for the larger break, it was the opportunity to design the 289-foot DynaRig sailing yacht Maltese Falcon for a really knowledgeable American owner. It gave me the opportunity to think out of the box and propose many original concepts.

Where else do you look for insight?

Early in my career, I was fascinated by the work of [Swiss-French architect] Le Corbusier and [American architect] Frank Lloyd Wright. However, my design work has been guided by analysis of the client’s brief, understanding the requirements and objectives of each project, then coming up with unique solutions, rather than attempting to draw inspiration from existing designs by others.

The Magellano 25 Metri debuted stateside at the 2020 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. A 30 Metri is up next. 

The Magellano 25 Metri debuted stateside at the 2020 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. A 30 Metri is up next. 

Where else do you find inspiration for designing new projects?

Designs that have stood the test of time thanks to perfect proportions and a clear and unique response to a given brief.

What are some of the key features of your boat design?

Carefully proportioned spaces, integration of areas, continuity of line, creating long sightlines. In short, form follows function.

What are some of the biggest challenges?

Clients who are not clear on their own requirements and preferences.

What do you think buyers will be looking for in the next five to 10 years?

More original thinking and unique solutions to their brief.

Francesco Struglia

“I always try to find a reason for a product to be built.”

“I always try to find a reason for a product to be built.”

Schooled in industrial design, Francesco Struglia was introduced to the world of yachts through a project with super­yacht designer Giovanni Zuccon.

In 2011, he moved to the Netherlands to work with Frank Laupman at Omega Architects. On Struglia’s return to Italy, he joined the Azimut-Benetti Group in Italy and became the company’s main liaison with designer Stefano Righini, who in turn became an important influence.

In 2017, Struglia opened his own design studio. His latest project for Azimut-Benetti is the Azimut Verve 47, for which he handled exterior and interior design. Struglia sought to imbue references to the automotive world merged with “forms created by dynamics and physics.”

A smaller sibling, the Azimut Verve 42, is scheduled to premiere in October.

Struglia draws inspiration from the automotive segment, which is evident in the Verve 47’s helm.

Struglia draws inspiration from the automotive segment, which is evident in the Verve 47’s helm.

How did you get started in yacht design?

I didn’t know at the time, but I guess I started with yacht design when I [was] sketching the classic boats from life in the marinas. Since I was a child, I have always been involved with art. I had this flaming passion, studying portrait and incision since I was 10 years old. In the late ’90s, I was a kid involved in the world of graphic design and street art, and I think this fusion between classical art, modern modular and graphic design brought me to explore the design world.

What was your big break?

In 2013, I brought a pretty unconventional design proposal to Vincenzo Poerio, then-CEO of Benetti Yachts. Later, I was contacted by [Azimut-Benetti Group vice president] Giovanna Vitelli, who, I like to think, saw something in me and in my personal research and passion. Vitelli gave me the opportunity to work inside Azimut and understand how an idea can really come to life.

Fold-down hull sides and quad Mercury Racing 450Rs define the Verve 47. 

Fold-down hull sides and quad Mercury Racing 450Rs define the Verve 47. 

Are there Azimut models from the past that you look to for inspiration?

I love the Azimut Leonardo 98. I think the layout was perfect. Another yacht I really loved since I saw it in the magazines is the 68S. It was so fresh and modern.

Where else do you look for insight?

Architecture. I have a serious crush for most of the modern players connected to Bauhaus, from [painter Wassily] Kandisky’s art research to the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe buildings, which blow me away when I am so lucky to see one. My favorite designer is [Italian auto designer] Giorgetto Giugiaro. I think he has been a sort of Michelangelo for industrial design.

The flagship of Azimut’s Verve series, the 47 will be joined by a 42-footer later this year.

The flagship of Azimut’s Verve series, the 47 will be joined by a 42-footer later this year.

What are some of the key features of your designs?

I always try to find a reason for a product to be built. It is important that there is a big reason for this, and if the reason is not just, “I need this bigger” or “I need this lighter,” the product will really catch the heart of a customer.

What are some of the biggest challenges?

The biggest challenge is proposing something feasible and valuable, that has the tolerance to evolve into something even better during the long design process. 

This article was originally published in the February 2021 issue.

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