Luiz DeBasto On Successful Design & 90m DAR
Lauded for his signature manipulation of shape and structure, Luiz DeBasto’s studio is one of the most well-respected names in superyacht design.
Counting among his repertoire projects commissioned by the likes of Burger Boat, Turquoise Yachts, Oceanco, Tankoa and Mondomarine (to name just a few!), DeBasto has worked with shipyards in all corners of the globe ranging from smaller production boats through to full custom megayachts.
So when Superyachts.com decided to take a closer look at the relationship between initial concepts and fully delivered projects - what makes a concept successful, how projects evolve over time - we figured, who could be more qualified to comment than Luiz de Basto?
DeBasto’s best-known design however - the evolutionary 90m DAR - was not born from his stellar reputation and solid relationships with world-leading shipyards.
Instead, it was one Saturday afternoon spent sketching in his office that led to the birth of DAR…
‘DAR was my own vision,’ Luiz tells us. ‘I was in the office on a Saturday and I was looking at some yachts on the market. It appeared to me that they were all mostly stacked-up decks. So I had this idea to use more glass, and try to avoid the generic look of deck upon deck.’
Luiz put pen to paper, and DAR’s base profile was born.
‘In the end, the only difference from my first sketch to the final boat is that I had normal lines for the windows, like a building, in a pattern of squares. Then on the second sketch I got rid completely, and everything became one big black area of glass.’
Some minor adjustments followed, Luiz tells us, after the deck arrangements were finalised and DAR’s aft side was lengthened slightly to give her a slightly more elegant look. But her lines, her overall look and feel, stayed true to the original sketch.
We were curious to know, in an industry that places such huge emphasis on customisation, was this unusual?
‘When the Owner was shopping for a boat, he looked at various designs and concepts before he saw this one,’ says Luiz. ‘Within 20 minutes he was talking to the shipyard. He said, “That’s my boat!” Sometimes, when you see what you want you just know.’
The marketing process for DAR took a slightly different form to the very public promotion of many concepts. Luiz approached his shipyard of choice privately, speaking with a select few interested brokers before finding DAR’s owner-to-be.
‘I chose Oceanco because they are very open to doing things differently,’ he tells us. ‘With all the glass, people thought it was crazy and could not be done. Oceanco said, “Okay, let’s see how we can make this happen.”’
Oceanco’s open-mindedness, as it turned out, was just what was needed.
DAR’s floor-to-ceiling glass was a first both in terms of amount used and innovation; ‘You feel like you are in the water,’ DeBasto tells us, ‘The dark glass outside has no effect on her interiors. You can’t believe people can’t see in!’
A simple but intelligent feat of design, DAR’s collection of accolades includes both ‘Best Exterior’ and ‘Finest New Superyacht’ at the 2018 Monaco Yacht Show amongst other awards.
Still one of the most unique-looking yachts on the water, her cutting-edge use of glass has undoubtedly influenced many projects since.
So did DeBasto know he was on to a winner with that very first sketch? Well, not that he would admit.
He does stress, however, that designing with a purpose improves the chances of a design to be built.
‘I like my designs to have a purpose, a goal. Something beautiful,’ he says. ‘My sketchbook is still full of crazy, creative ideas that will never see the light of day - but for me it helps to have something to achieve.’
This inventive use of glass has seen an evolution on DeBasto’s own designs, most notably on 90m Project Cosmos’ intricate glass dome.
Would this purposeful approach be DeBasto’s advice then, to aspiring young designers looking to have their concepts built?
Luiz tempers his advice, he tells us, as the design world today is a different place to when he first started out. ‘We didn’t have social media, which I believe is a powerful tool to show your work to a large audience.
That said, you still have to create fantastic and creative work in order to be noticed. In other words, your designs need to be so good that they cannot be ignored! That's my best advice, no matter the media…’
"When the Owner was shopping for a boat, he looked at various designs and concepts before he saw this one. Within 20 minutes he was talking to the shipyard. "