Lucio Micheletti is an artist first and an architect second. His urban installations and sculptures have graced everything from the Venice Biennale to Art Basel Miami. He made a huge splash on his debut on the naval scene a decade ago, but his talents span everything from cars to university under the mentorship of Achille Castiglioni.
Micheletti also brought a breath of fresh air to the nautical scene in his desire to shake off certain of its constraints to create his own particular take. So the Milanese architect made his voice heard loud and clear in the intervening 10 years. Something he had already done – and indeed continues to do – in the car, residential architecture, hotel and theatre worlds. Nevertheless, talking about his work does not come naturally Lucio Micheletti. “I like moving in areas of silence, in the pause between notes, where sound creates space for itself. In this noisy world, I love that sense of suspension”. Silence, it seems, creates a space in which to work and then frames sound. That said all of Micheletti’s work, be it design or art, starts with a sketch, an idea. Drawing is ever the starting point.
Art has taught him that it is not just a question of following a particular design direction but of achieving balance, order, rhythm, harmony. Salvador Dali used to say, “Don’t be afraid of perfection – you’ll never achieve it” so Micheletti + Partners do not waste their time striving for it: “We accept imperfections as a sign of what we really area. We try to sculpt volumes, enter into dialogue with colours, we interact with materials, and then we balance it all. That is our real challenge: balance rather than perfection”.
Micheletti’s work as an architect has neither been a solitary nor silent endeavour, however. Rather it is an ongoing conversation with the stakeholders involved. His studio, in fact, specialises in custom designs crafted around each individual client. “I was fortunate with the Baltic 142 Canova (his latest creation, ed.’s note) as the owner was very knowledgeable and also an extraordinary human-being. We embarked upon a shared path: it started out in black and white and then we gradually added colour to the boat as we worked together on the design and its sense of space”.
The duo also flanked the technical staff, breaking down the problems one by one and driving home the point that the interior and exterior designs had to encapsulate a single vision. “The occasional obstacle helped us realise our limits but the greatest gift was overcoming them”.
They say that art is a talent and design a skill. Micheletti, on the other hand, also maintains that contemporary art helps us to see life from different perspectives and provides us with an opportunity to learn more about ourselves. Design is the rational side of art and takes a different direction but still shares a common soul with it.
“When I used to design for cars, I was convinced that form followed function. That is not exactly true. Aboard a boat, everything that surrounds you is designed. But whether it is well or badly designed, makes a difference to how you feel. Achieving a sense of well-being means simplifying and creating a concept of deep comfort”. Micheletti made a marble model of Canova to showcase her forms. In doing so, he wanted to bring the worlds of art and yachting together. The most difficult part of designing the Baltic was making her dynamic. “When I design boats, I work with carbon as it is lightweight. I also use noble, natural materials but I am always striving for lightness. When I talk about art though, I think that its power comes from weight. I see art as an architectural thing whose primary function is grounding that weight rather than decoration”.
So why not create a sculpture that represents the work done, the volumes sketched, the calculations made. A marble sculpture that immortalises all that endeavour. A simple creation sculpted by wind and sea. The lightness of the message is underscored by the weight of the material. The boat is called Canova and the sculpture is called Vento (Wind).
Micheletti has seen great change sweep the design world in the last ten years. Even sailing yachts have a new relationship with the sea and are taking on new shapes, sport new transom designs, and even deckhouses that open up to sea and sky, creating a direct relationship between interiors and exteriors. Ever-evolving lifestyles and technological progress have opened up a new approach to the marine environment. Integrated design, high tech skills and materials, innovation and sustainability are the themes now guiding the architect and his team. Micheletti started out with 60’ yachts before designing one twice that size. However, every single boat has its own dynamic comfort, its own style. Each one has its own story regardless of its dimensions. Therefore, the dinette aboard a 60’ is like a corridor at home, a lounge, somewhere everyone passes through. In a larger craft, it might be bigger, brighter and wider but remains the space where everyone interacts, passes through, stops off.
Dimensions that are more generous mean designers have to create a new interpretation of the attendant spaces. “But you are still always striving for purity of light, harmony of line and volume, and non-invasive ways to use technology. The real secret though is bringing emotion to spaces. If I fail to do that, then I’m not doing my job”.