“The details involved in every single phase of the process are what guarantee efficiency and quality”. This is a phrase often uttered by Giovanni Costantino, founder and CEO of The Italian Sea Group, which includes the Admiral, Tecnomar and NCA Refiting brands. Already an entrepreneur at the tender age of 18, Giovanni Costantino switched from running a large furnishings and accessories group to yacht building in 2009. The first brand he acquired was Tecnomar, the others followed, leading to the foundation in 2012 of The Italian Sea Group, which builds and refits motoryachts and other vessels of up to 100 metres.
The Italian Sea Group itself stresses the “Made in Italy” concept made so famous by the fashion and design sectors. Is it your ambition to bring megayachts under that umbrella too?
Our Italianness is there in our every expression, even the simplest. It is in every corner of the yard, like the tricolour. As Italians, we have a natural predisposition for design and beauty. In terms of design, we primarily reference furnishings, which were our opener in interpreting beauty from a product perspective as well as everything else. We have been able to design and create beauty in terms of quality too. So I wanted to interpret that Italian ability in yachting.
So how did the Tecnomar for Lamborghini project come about? The new 63’ design that will launch next year?
I chose Automobili Lamborghini because it has the greatest affinity with The Italian Sea Group. Like ourselves, Lamborghini represents excellence in its sector. It is Made in Italy. It is luxury. It is performance combined with technology. It is a brand that builds dreams.
What road did you travel that led you to The Italian Sea Group in 2012? The Italian Sea Group is my creation. I developed it like a parent raises their children. It is my fourth child! Design and a vocation for beauty are my real passions. Beauty isn’t just about shape or forms, but a way of tackling life. I first worked in design and developed professionally by persuing it in everything I have done since I was 18. I really did grow up on “bread and design”.
Form and function. Is it the winning formula in yachting?
I think design and beauty have to be functional. When the beauty expressed through design is not functional, you can’t call it design. It is heading towards experimentation and art. And the object is a aim in itself. The design we create always goes hand in hand with functionality. The two are inextricably linked as far as I am concerned.
So can design make the difference in yachting?
I am convinced that design is the real competitive advantage in yachting. It makes the real difference and is the sum of small details that are often very difficult to execute and involve huge sacrifices in terms of time, dedication and cost. Design makes the difference because we are Italian and that means that attention to detail is one of our main objectives.
Of all the yachts you have built so far, which one best embodies the Group’s philosophy?
The next one! By the time we see a finished yacht – and that takes two years, maybe four, our minds, stimuli and creativity have already moved on to other projects. Unfortunately that means I am constantly dissatisfied. But it would be terrible to have it any other way.
What is your ideal yacht?
Simple, superbly functional, well designed and built so that you won’t lose contact with the sea. With the growing hull sizes, the sea is often so far away you forget you are on a yacht. You must not lose that contact with the sea. It is one of the features of my ideal yacht.
Have you designed your perfect yacht yet?
I think that the yachts built by our Group, which I am deeply involved with, are all extremely recognisable. My ideal project is what I express through my owners. There is no difference. I am even tougher on myself when I work for others than for myself.
Italian Sea Group conceives, designs and builds all its yachts. That is a big commitment…
It is just part of the company culture. The products we create are so unique and demand such attention to detail that putting them in any outsider’s hands might result in quality and deadline problems for us. I structured our in-house Style Centre with 30 architects that work on forms and interpreting beauty and design alone. That was because I want to guarantee quick thinking and quick implementation. That said, we are also working on projects created by outside architects. The owners of large yachts often already have had the project done by their own architect. Our job then is to interpret what that outside architect has expressed to the best of our ability.
After acquiring Celi in 2016 to do the interiors of the Group’s yachts, you created a genuine luxury yacht supply chain. Is there anything missing still?
All of our investments in terms of our in-house business units are focused on achieving the technical and aesthetic efficiency that we need to maximise in the short term. The need to tackle everything in-house within the Group is down to the fact that our interpretation of creativity is so eclectic and complex – it might cause serious management issues if we contracted it out because everything we create is a one-off, unique.
The Italian Sea Group’s headquarters is practically an art gallery. Is art one of your great passions?
Yes. I have always had a passion for art so I first brought a series of family artworks to the company and then updated that by working with new artists and gallerists to create an extremely dynamic gallery. We have tried to distil our DNA into our Headquarters. We try to bring it into the workplace, production areas, communal areas and even the gym, canteen and spa. It takes a lot of work every day in terms of maintenance, management and keeping the art works consistent. But honestly, we couldn’t do it any other way.