In his 18-year career, he has designed over 400 yachts and yet his name may not ring many bells outside the profession. Well, not yet, at least.
“I made a deliberate choice to avoid the limelight,” explains 36-year-old Giorgio M. Cassetta from his Rome studio. “I prefer to build up a niche reputation rather than focusing on being famous in the media. Partly because I am not entirely sure how useful celebrity is in the long term”.
Boats have been a passion all his life. “I used to love drawing boats, ships and anything that floated when I was two or three,” Cassetta smiles. “I decided to turn that passion into my profession”.
Despite being far from a swot, he excelled at school and university, earning a degree in Industrial Design-Transport and Product Design from Rome’s Sapienza University and then quickly found work in the city’s most illustrious yacht design studios.
“I soon realised, however, that if I wanted to make a living in this area, I would have to open my own studio,” he explains. “It was tough at first. I had a portfolio of big boats I had worked on but which were under other people’s names. So I essentially had no name”.
His big break came in 2012. “I put a 90m concept on the cover of a portfolio of my work and began taking it around,” Cassetta continues. The portfolio ended up on the desk of Vincenzo Travaglini, who had worked with Paolo Vitelli and acted as an intermediary.
Vitelli instantly recognised Cassetta’s potential and gave him the commission for the first Benettis. It was a start and one that proved enough to allow the young hopeful to open his much longed-for studio.
“I started out designing production boats, like the Mediterraneo, Delfino and Diamond, but then moved on to bigger craft and haven’t looked back since,” Cassetta says delightedly. So was it just a stroke of luck that he was introduced to Benetti?
Well, luck won’t get you very far when it comes to designing yachts of the calibre of the 107m Luminosity and the 63m Metis. That takes real skill, talent, determination and, in Casetta’s case, a highly personal idea of what yacht design should be about.
Yacht design to him means melding the cultures of the three stakeholders involved in creating any yacht: the owner (which sometimes is the yard), the yard and the yacht designer. He says that yacht designers should not be “self-absorbed artists but artisans working to serve the product”. Is this excessive modesty or creative realism?
“A good designer will take both stimuli and constraints and turn them into design inspiration. They have to hold on to an overall vision of the project, including the not strictly creative part,” he says, adding that his job involves meticulously analysing myriad elements that are then assembled into the exterior profile of a yacht.
“It about more than a beautiful profile,” he continues. “You have to put together a series of functions as logically as possible and see if they are compatible with the profile you have designed. In fact, we should stop talking about exterior design and start talking about the overall division of the project as compartmentation and exteriors are doubly linked”.
This disarming honesty is reflected in Casetta’s work. His trademarks are ultra-clean lines, a general absence of any superfluous decoration and, most significantly, an air of such timelessness that his yachts are almost impossible to pin down to any particular period. This due to barely visible yet perceptible curves.
The many Benetti’s Cassetta has sketched are a case in point, from the 70m Spectre, which won him six plaudits including a 2019 World Superyacht Award, to the 63m Metis and the 107m Luminosity.
He has also designed a 75m with Lürssen and another major joint design with an as-yet top secret yard.
After four years of working exclusively for Benetti, Cassetta branched out into designing for other yards. This has produced the new Cigarette Yacht flagship Tirranna, and the 52m concept created in partnership with Ezequiel Farca.
The studio has also worked on smaller craft, not least Tender to Lana for a Benetti megayacht. Its Venture Yachts Alpha Spritz 102 has just splashed and the wraps just been whipped off the Tankoa T450. Interestingly, Cassetta also designed the interiors for both of the latter, a first for the studio.
“Previously it was just a question of professional honesty. We didn’t have the time,” explains Cassetta who always references his team. “I can be as good as I want, but if I am not backed up by a close-knit team, I won’t be able to work miracles. I like to expand my team’s training so that they can work independently and contribute to all the projects we are working on. That means I can now start working on interiors too”.
Cassetta obviously sees the potential of this new area as he has involved the respected residential designer Leticia Perez, who also happens to be his mum! These passions really do run in the blood, it seems!