Designing innovative luxury yachts from 1997, Stefano Pastrovich, with a background in architecture, started his career collaborating on the 57m charter yacht SenseS while working for Martin Francis studio. This collaboration further led to a commission by Kusch Yachts, developing the imposing 113m superyacht Le Grand Bleu. In 2000, Pastrovich was appointed Chief Designer at the Wally style office, where he worked on the styling of Wallypower yachts. Since 2005, although continuing to work on the styling of Wally’s powerboats, Stefano Pastrovich operates his own design office, with a new studio located in Monaco.
Why have you chosen Monaco for your new office?
Monaco is the best place for a yacht designer to be, because of its relevance to the industry. I don’t mean to say that the previous location wasn’t good. The studio was located in a beautiful place, excellent for yachting, but Monaco provides more possibilities to further develop my business. I do travel a lot, as the shipyards I work with are located all around the world, but when the spring comes, so do my clients. I just cross the street from my office, take a tender and go on board my clients’ yachts. It simplifies everything for me, for the customer, and it’s better for business.
What are the services offered by Stefano Pastrovich Studio?
It is very simple, everything you see, we will do. Imagine having a blank page. The client choses a 70-metre vessel, tells us he would like to cruise around Antarctica, or perhaps around Sardinia or the French Riviera. He tells us his ideas on how he wants to use the boat and we design everything; exterior as well as the interior. I believe there is no other way to design a yacht. Interior and exterior are strongly interconnected. When we meet our clients, we tell them, that we will take care of everything they see. The lines and the shape of the vessel, exterior spaces, rails, decking, windows, on the interior choosing the fabrics, furniture, decorations and so on. The only part we don’t design is what you cannot see, what is behind the furniture and the walls; the plumbing, electricity or structural details. Of course there are the exceptions, like the Wally yachts. Creating these yachts, there is a large connection between the structure and the overall design. Here the structure has become the design of the vessel. The Wally 118 yacht was the first example.
I also like to challenge myself and the engineers; supporting innovative engineering. Although I am not an engineer, I do have a good eye as well as a real life experience in sailing as well as flying gliders and airplanes. This provides me with a good knowledge and inspiration to proceed in a right direction. In yachting you have to have a lot of sense of realism. There is plenty of space for innovation, in terms of design and engineering, and good common sense is a perfect guide to take you to the right solutions.
From designer’s point of view, what do you believe is needed to create that perfect superyacht?
There is no perfect yacht. I am a little bit out of the ordinary and I strongly reflect myself when I design something or ask my guys to design something. So if I were to design the perfect yacht, it would be a yacht that reflects myself and my beliefs. The perfect yacht boasts good aesthetics and is very elegant, as I am obsessed with the elegance at the sea. I think some boats are too aggressive in their lines. The sea, being a wonderful part of the nature, is best coupled with an elegant and aesthetically pleasing vessel. At the same time, I like to be active when on water. I like surfing, diving, sailing and have a good time in the company of my friends. I like to enjoy the sea, so the best boat for me would be elegant with amenities allowing me to have fun on board.
Clients have now understood the way I work and the boats I design. I design yachts that offer endless possibilities to appreciate the different colours of the nature and the sea. The Owner of luxury yacht MYSTERE SHADOW for example. Although not a beautiful vessel, the main goal was to provide her with more toys, to allow her Owner to really enjoy the boat. He also owns super yacht LIFE SAGA, a very luxurious vessel. Although, LIFE SAGA is the more beautiful and more luxurious one, he almost never stays on board, but prefers to enjoy the many possibilities for water sports and amenities MYSTERE SHADOW has.
The perfect combination for me is a boat that is a luxury yacht and at the same time a shadow boat. One that has ten tenders, five jet-skis, kite surfs, motorcycle, a hammer; everything that you can imagine incorporated in her original concept. The idea is to have all equipment on board, and have the space created right from the birth of the yacht. Having a yacht and trying to accommodate for all the toys and equipment additionally is very difficult and inconvenient.
You mentioned the 42m motor yacht Life Saga. She is one of your more recent projects and you have been asked to refit her interior. What was the design brief behind this project?
The design-brief was completely different to what I did. This is typical of me. As I mentioned before, the client is also the owner of Mystere Shadow. He was very happy with the previous project, in fact we are building now a 72-metre yacht for him. The summer before I finished Mystere Shadow, and during the Monaco Yacht Show that year, he asked me to refresh the interior of Life Saga. To be honest with you, I am not good at just changing the fabrics and the colour palette of the interior. So, I said to him, that I need to destroy something and make more significant changes for it to work. I told him that we need to do three kinds of refits; a high-level refit where we will dismantle the part of the vessel where he will stay the most: the main deck, the main saloon and the main dining area. Then we will have a very low-level refit, which includes the guest cabins, changing the fabrics and the colour, without touching the wood. And last, we will apply a medium-level refit, in the sky lounge. Here we will retouch some of the volume, plus change the colours and some of the furniture. Although it ended up costing more than he had original budgeted, he loved it and he agreed. But this is the way I work. I am very brave and very honest.
The biggest change we applied was to the saloon. We have divided the main saloon from the main dining area with a sliding door and opened up the aft of the saloon, in order for it to directly communicate with the outdoor area. This way we have achieved a feeling that the exterior terrace is the continuation of the interior saloon. Instead of the original side-opening, we have created a central circular sliding glass door. To increase the feeling of space we created two semi-circles in the main dining and main saloon. The windows were repositioned in a very precise place in order to create the sense of spaciousness and feeling of openness.
What are some of the specific challenges and difficulties when it comes to creating a new interior or exterior for a luxury yacht under refit?
There is no such thing as difficult. It is the same level of difficulty as creating a brand-new boat. To re-design a boat is not just about looking at the vessel and coming up with an idea. There is a procedure. There is a set of rules to follow. The first step is to start cleaning, taking out the elements that are disturbing. ‘Is it the corridor, the material? What is killing the soul of this vessel?’ Once you reach the real soul of the yacht, then you start adding. Just like a relationship between a man and a woman. You have to get to know her, before you can really understand her and her needs. It is the same with a yacht, once you understand the boat, the boat itself will offer you the ideas of what to do.
What keeps you inspired?
Imagine that there is a vessel that doesn’t inspire you at all. First we need to see what the client would like to enjoy with his boat; the sea, the panorama. You start understanding how sleeping, walking on your boat would be, how to best appreciate the yacht, creating the right flow between the exterior and the interior. I design mainly with the exterior in mind. My main goal is to create yachts that allow you to fully appreciate the sea.
There are many Owners that like to keep their yachts private, however there are those that choose to offer their vessel for charter. What are the most important facts to take into consideration when designing a yacht that will be used for charter?
There is no real difference, in my opinion. It is similar to owning a house. Either you would like to keep it private for yourself, or you don’t mind sharing it with others. It might be convenient for the owner to charter the yacht, but for us designers, architect it does not make any difference.
What is the main difference when it comes to designing a sailing yacht as opposed to a motor yacht?
I sail a lot and my passion is sailing, however designing a sailing yacht is a lot more challenging. In sailing, the customers tend to be more conservative, so it is difficult to pursue your customer to follow any innovative ideas in terms of design. I would like to design more sailing boats, however there is a big partition between the two businesses. The customers have to trust you and there is an attitude that if you do motor yachts, you cannot do sailing yachts. Owners who follow regattas around the world and are passionate sailors, are completely different to those that have power boats. From the designer’s point of view, power boats give you a possibility to be more creative and come up with ideas that are more extravagant. Clients that own performance or racing sailing yachts might not care that much about the extravagant aesthetics of the yacht, concentrating more on the performance.
What, in your opinion, does the future of superyacht design and naval architecture hold?
I think the future will see more mono-volumed vessels. We have evolved a lot from a typical ‘wedding-cake’ layout. Shipyards started building with more hull volume and less superstructure. Feadship is perhaps one of the first shipyards which have started building yachts with less superstructure and more hull volume. One example is the 73m Feadship yacht Predator.
Another trend we will see is the continuous increase in yachts which are more eco-friendly. One of my projects is the 99m mega yacht XVINTAGE in cooperation with Fincantieri and Wartsila, designed to run on a liquefied natural gas (LNG). XVINTAGE features a very innovative dual engine, which can switch from diesel to LNG. Although, we see more eco-friendly alternatives to the traditional fuel, there are too many oil-interest in the world. I think the problems related to energy saving will continue for a long time. Maybe in 50 years we will see a major change, but not now.
Can you reveal any new projects that you are currently working on?
We are currently working on two 70-metre vessels that are under construction. We are using commercial shipyards, which are amongst the best in the world. The vessels boast a combination of elements typical of commercial vessels with the utmost in luxury found on superyachts. We are also working on a 72-metre superyacht concept, which should be finalised soon.. Unfortunately, no other details can be revealed at this stage.
If you were to name one project that is truly significant in some way to you, which project would it be?
All the projects are very different and equally important to me. They have been created during different stages of my life, in collaboration with different people and atmosphere that surrounded the design process. I was facing unique challenges with every single one of these vessels. The Wally Power yachts were very important, just like the 83-metre research vessel, which was a beautiful experience. I also have a client that has taken me on a ride in a submarine, so I could experience what science means to him, and design his yacht in a best way possible. Le Grand Bleu is a boat that I detest and love at the same time. It is a vessel that I designed early in my carrier, but it provided me with an important knowledge and great experience. All of my works are equally significant to me, but all of them in a different way.