The Pursuit of Beauty – Carlo Nuvolari & Dan Lenard Monte Carlo Yachts’ Designers

Forever breaking new ground in the yachting world, Monte Carlo Yachts is Italy’s pioneering yacht producer renowned for its magnificent super yachts that surpass all boundaries of precision, style and design.

Genuinely Italian in its management, designers and artisanal skills, supported by the industrial strengths of Beneteau group – the uncontested global leader in the production of sailboats – Monte Carlo Yachts is dedicated to crafting timeless and breathtaking luxury yachts for the world’s boating elite. Designed by Nuvolari Lenard, one of the most active yacht design firms in Italy and among the largest in the world, Nuvolari Lenard is the work of superstars in design, Carlo Nuvolari and Dan Lenard. They say that for a designer there is no challenge more fascinating than creating something new from nothing, which was just the challenge that was offered to them by Monte Carlo Yachts’ presidents Carla Demaria and Annette Roux, when they asked Nuvolari Lenard to lead the design.

Nuvolari Lenard didn’t want to simply design houses made to be moored in a harbour, or cars that go in the water, they wanted to make yachts that were beautiful to use and had strong personalities. This vision can be seen in every detail of each Monte Carlo Yacht, from the deck layout to the porthole design.

Fascinated by these breathtaking creations, Asia Dreams jetted to Italy to meet Nuvolari Lenard, to find out more about the design of Monte Carlo Yachts and to understand the challenges faced when designing an aquatic masterpiece.

Q: Today your surnames are renowned in the design world as pioneers of your trade, but how did you first begin designing together?

Lenard: We met at the Genova fair. Carlo was working with a small shipyard and we suggested to them that we could look after the design aspect of their boats.

Nuvolari: There wasn’t really a precise plan at the beginning. When you start a new company you may have a long-term view of what you want to achieve, of course, but we couldn’t imagine the sequence of our designs. We just did the first. It was a success, so we jumped into the next. We moved ahead and at a certain point we realised that we had been structuring ourselves. That’s how we became a more established company. We’ve never looked back.

Q: Now that you’ve found your niche, what would you say are the distinguishing touches of a Nuvolari Lenard design?

Lenard: We truly don’t have “our” style. We decided not to have one. A new project always starts from the beginning. We are continually shuffling our cards and our clients. Shipyards and private clients have understood that this is our approach to design. That’s why very different projects have arrived on our desks – sailing yachts, dinghies, big or small yachts, tenders, explorers or fast yachts. In all these years we have basically covered every area of yacht design and it’s not because we chose to do it, but because we chose to never repeat ourselves.

Nuvolari: Tomorrow I might meet a customer and I’m sure they will say: “Show me something!” We have nothing ready, but we’ll create something for them. The story will start tomorrow – that is, if they recognise our experience, what we say, the capacity to create a good design and they feel comfortable with us.

Q: Can you name a single design that you are most proud of to-date and why?

Nuvolari: We always say that for us, the best design is the next one.

Q: So what design would you like to do in the studio that you have not yet done?

Lenard: I would like to make a sailing boat that extends the overall length that can be handled by one person. Today, a cruiser that can be comfortably handled by one person is a 50ft. You can take it out on your own, handle it on your own and return to the port on your own. A 60ft, on the other hand, could mean you lose a finger, a hand, or a foot. I want to change the concept so that a 60ft or 70ft becomes a single handle. The comfort offered by a 60ft or 70ft sailboat for a family is like that of a house, but it is impossible to live with a crew when compared with the freedom offered by a 45ft or 50ft with no crew. This possibility interests me.

Q: When bringing your dreams to reality, what are some of the challenges you’ve had to face?

Lenard: Time, because everyone is always in a hurry. People see a beautiful yacht with a beautiful design and sometimes they forget that it takes a long time to achieve that. It requires so many different aspects fitting together: the interiors, the style, the mechanics. It’s also about protecting the design whilst these different aspects come together. It’s not that someone wants to destroy or ruin it, but because there are so many different needs pulling from different directions. Engineers might need to tweak a plan for comfort or safety and developers might want to adjust materials  – everyone has a good reason to change the design, but we feel responsible to the owner once we’ve presented the model and the drawings. The final product should represent what we propose.

Nuvolari: Exactly. Imagine a composer who wants to conduct his or her orchestra. He’s not only writing the music, but also making sure the music actually sounds the way he has written it down. It’s all in the execution – to make sure all the pieces are in the right place, just the way you imagined it.

Q: So what has it been like working with Monte Carlo Yachts?

Lenard: It’s been extremely interesting working with people in this company. Even after 25 years, our work together is young minded. Any idea we have, they are ready to discuss it. They never deny it or say they are not used to it – they face everything head on. Also, every boat, and now we have six boats in the market, must be a new level of excellence. There is no time to produce similar boats. We steer our boats to the next generation. We remodel the whole line, always improving and always evolving. As designers, the worst thing would be to make 20 models that all look alike and Monte Carlo Yachts are, as we are, forward thinking. We don’t want to wait until one is outdated; we’re all staying ahead of our game.

Q: In your 25-year history, what’s been the most difficult boat to design?

Nuvolari: It was a boat that didn’t look like any other. We played with proportions like no one ever has. It had a very high bow that almost disappeared into the superstructure, so from the front it almost looked like a sports yacht. Then on the back you have huge volumes with fashion lines and curves that run across the boat in three dimensional shapes so that as you’re walking around you’re not just under the roof, you’re actually admiring the lines on the boat. It was an extremely difficult task, but by the end we knew we had done something totally unique.

Q: Finally, what’s the secret to your design vision? What inspires your designs?
Lenard: The inspiration for boats is transversal because it incorporates so many different fields. There’s almost every design field in a boat, from the fabric itself, to the detailing, stitching, interior design and product design. Once I gained inspiration from a building with beautiful angled glass. Another time, it was from a military ship. You might be surprised to learn how uncommon it is for yacht designers to actually go on a boat. We must be the only industry where that happens. Fashion designers wear clothes and architects live in houses, but yacht designers look at boats as objects and, as such, design them as beautiful things.