“You can design a lamp, a hammer, a chair, a pair of skis, a yacht, well. There isn’t much difference between them. The important thing is that you are curious and you listen when you approach the project. Listening doesn’t mean losing your personality. In fact, it will strengthen it and help you create strong, successful products”.
Marc Sadler may technically be an Austrian-born Frenchman but in reality he is very much a citizen of the world. He has worked and lived in France, the US, Asia and, most recently, in Italy. He is also one of the leading names in industrial design as attested to by a string of international awards including the Compasso d’Oro Adi for his Drop lamp (Flos, 1994), Tite e Mite (Foscarini, 2001), the Big bookshelf (2008, Caimi Brevetti) and the Bellevue ice-cream display fridge with Panorama technology (IFI, 2014). He is also the pen behind a stunning motorbike back protector for Dainese that now resides in the permanent design collection at the MOMA in New York.
Sadler’s great passion is for experimenting with composites and plastics. “I love designing things using materials you normally only see in other sectors. The Drop lamp for Floss, for instance, was made from a rubber used for running shoes and coloured inserts.
I also love combining superficially very different materials such as teak and metal, and anodised aluminium and wood. That kind of approach lends itself very well to yacht design, particularly in the outdoor sector where you have to experiment when it comes to preventing damage from the elements. The Bi chair I designed for Infiniti is made from plastic coupled with wooden inserts and would be perfect for a sun deck on a megayacht”.
But that’s not the only reason why Sadler is fascinated by the nautical world. “I spent a long time living in Venice where I also had a sailing yacht and I love all the boats on the lagoon be they sailing, row or motorboats. They have just the right link with the past. Their forms are quite antique and should never ben redesigned too much. I can’t understand certain overly modern powerboats with exaggeratedly curved glazing and over-the-top colours…. You have to ensure that every object you design is timeless or, if you want to make them time specific, you have to guarantee they have the same standard of design quality”.
Light is another of Sadler’s mainstays and is something he is very interested in tackling aboard. “When you design a lamp, there is an emotional element too, it’s a bit like when a tailor designs a bespoke suit: intensity, colour, the interplay of shadows and glints of light all come into play. I’d like to work on a light source aboard that would be used to illuminate a good big surface so that the latter would also become a kind of lamp in its own right when it comes in contact with light. A light has to be as beautiful when it’s off as when it’s on because it has to be a pleasant to look at it as an object. It has to take light and then diffuse it, lighting itself. So give me a projector and a surface inside a yacht and you’ll make me a very happy designer.”
In a way though, Marc Sadler has already made a foray or two into the nautical world. He worked with the Gruppo Treesse, for instance, on several hydromassage tubs with concealed bubble, water jet and light systems which Dominator picked up and is now using the sun deck of its yachts.
The yard also commissioned a custom outdoor champagne fridge complete with small freezer sections originally seen in the ice-cream Coolbox Sadler designed for Ifi. “I’d love to do something ad hoc though. I mean work with a yard to pinpoint a gap in the market and then fill it,” Sadler says, segueing into a very neat description of his own concept of design: “I am firmly convinced that collaboration is vital in creating successful design.
Yachts, like tables and gym shoes, shouldn’t just be designed by a designer, they should be the result of the work of a team that listen to what customers need and then translates that into things that are in line with the manufacturer’s tradition.”