Patricia Viel exudes a sense of extreme yet pared-back elegance as she comes to greet us in the studio in which she and Antonio Citterio are partners. There is a similar spare sophistication to her work and also the careful way in which she chooses every word.
Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel Interiors is one of Italy’s most internationally successful design studios and has now made a spectacular debut in the yachting world. Credit for this must go to Sanlorenzo as the yard called in Viel and Citterio to create the interiors for one of its fibreglass displacement yachts.
The SD112 was delivered in June 2016, but the owner was so pleased that Viel and her studio are now doing the décor for a 42-metre steel-hulled explorer for him from the same yard which is featured exclusively in Top Yacht Design.
“The yacht design transition came very naturally, because I have a personal passion for boats,” explains Viel. “The nautical world has also, by vocation, been extremely focused on details, integrating functions and the economic feasibility of certain solutions. All concepts that lie at the very core of good design. So it’s very comfortable territory even for an architect from outside the sector but with a contemporary style”.
The SD112 is characterised by the combination of integrated interior design – the use of a single material, a muted colour palette, fabric ceiling lining – and Citterio design pieces”.
The most seductive part of designing for yachts is developing differences that distinguish it from other areas of architecture: “Unfortunately, however, the nautical world is overly-dependent on the terrestrial visual and behavioural culture,” continues the architect. “We need to educate it to develop more specific tastes of its own that reflect the fact that these are floating vessels which move from place to place, have very precise technical requirements and demand constant, skilled maintenance. And also that they have engines that cause vibration ….”
This approach was easy to take with Sanlorenzo, particularly the explorer yacht because it as an extreme craft commissioned directly by the owner and so could more clearly reflect the Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel Interiors aesthetic.
“The most obvious characteristic is the close relationship between the interior and exterior spaces,” continues Viel. “The owner was also very keen to lower the openings on the main deck as close as possible to walkway level, to underscore that relationship. The hull walls feature heavily in the design and we pushed that concept to the limit on the lower deck where the hull profile is made a part of the cabin designs to retain a direct connection between the naval architecture and the spaces themselves. The same applies in the master suite where the apertures were crafted to allow occupants to see out from the bed without altering the readability of the hull side. All the spaces have hideaway stowage compartments too: there is very little stuff around, in fact. There’s not a huge amount of furniture but it was redesigned ensure it was perfectly adapted to the spaces. There’s much less of the residential touch in the explorer than in the displacement yacht”.
The same continuity was clearly applied in the materials chosen: Canaletto walnut dominates the interiors, its grey tones referencing the teak decks, which will also take on a similar hue over time, and the steel of the hull.
So what is the next step? “We want to do the naval architecture for a project. Obviously we would need the help of an engineer for the waterlines,” answers the architect without missing a beat. “Our studio’s specialist nature really has its core in seamless integration through different design scales, from urban design to the details of a door handle. There is also huge consistency in our approach: we now want to find an opportunity that will allow us explore that theme in-depth in the nautical sector”. Curious. Very curious indeed. We look forward to seeing the results.