Nuvolari Lenard celebrating 25 years with innovating attitude

Nuvolari Lenard celebrating 25 years with innovating attitude

Nuvolari Lenard celebrating 25 years with innovating attitude

Yacht Design

02/04/2020 - 12:12

Founding Partner Carlo Nuvolari reflects on the company’s achievements in the world of superyacht design over the last 25 years alongside Dan Lenard in the company’s studio in Venice.

With 2017 marking our 25th anniversary of working together as the Nuvolari-Lenard design studio, this milestone gives us reason to pause and reflect on what has been achieved over the last quarter of a century, how we have impacted the world of design and where things will be heading in the future. 

A design company needs an identity beyond its styling. Our mission at Nuvolari-Lenard is to produce innovative ideas and solutions that are packaged with Italian flare and iconic elegance. This spans all our areas of business, from custom superyachts and production yachts to residential interiors.

Classics are always ground-breaking, which is why Nuvolari-Lenard is a proactive design studio. You need to be bold to create something that will be remembered and become a classic. We do not wait for customers to ask us for a design. If inspiration strikes, we study and research before applying new concepts in the projects that are built from our designs.

Occasionally, we create designs that will never be built or seen; it is this creative process that keeps us and our young partners fresh and pushing the boundaries in yacht and residential design, regardless of whether there is a particular project in mind. It is our philosophy that everyone within the studio – from junior apprentice designers right up to the partners – should spend the maximum time possible with a pencil in their hand.

Many of our current projects are totally confidential and will remain so until launched. However, we can reflect upon some of our highlights from the last 25 years, including the ‘firsts’ in yachting that have become a part of the Nuvolari-Lenard’s design DNA, recognizable throughout our fleet of yachts and which have been widely adopted across the yachting industry. These elements are not just related to styling but they also relate to certain functions, many of which have become mainstream today.


The strong ‘car muscle’ lines that are typical of all the Palmer Johnson Sportyachts that we designed have an unmistakable style that became a hallmark of Palmer Johnson, and one of the builder’s most recognisable design elements. These ‘muscles’ were introduced to enhance the sensation of power in the yachts. Aside from their aesthetic effect, they were used to conceal the large air intakes and protect the aft decks from cross winds.


Although fashion plates were nothing new, we introduced them in glass material for our line of Monte Carlo Yachts. Used to connect upper and main decks, the glass protects the aft decks from cross winds while still allowing the field of view to remain open. 
As well as all our Monte Carlo Yachts designs, glass fashion plates can be seen on M/Y Alfa Nero (2006) and the 109-metre Oceanco new build project currently under construction.

A variation of muscular fashion plates to provide protection to the side decks and give a continuity in superstructure lines can also be seen on one of our latest styling jobs, the 106-metre ‘giga-sailer’ Black Pearl, which was recently completed by Oceanco. One of the earliest sketches shows a “glass” fashion plate, which was not built because structurally too weak. It was then decided to have a continuous arc structure.


Also seen on Black Pearl is the original and distinctive bow shape, which ensures the longest possible waterline to a flared bow. The unique and unmistakable shape is a variation of the bowline concept seen on Palmer Johnson’s 210-foot and 171-foot yachts. The aim was to provide an aggressive look to the bow while also delivering performance enhancement in the naval architecture, through lengthening at the waterline and using a flare to divert bow spray.


Perhaps the design feature for which Nuvolari-Lenard is most renowned, we first introduced a ‘statement’ rear pool on Alfa Nero, again for Oceanco. Our aim was to create a new way of enjoying the aft deck of large ‘white yachts’ that had not been seen before. 

We designed the feature because we had noticed that, with the increasing size of superyachts, owners and guests were being moved further away from the sea. This resulted in negative feelings, as though being on a ‘mini cruise ship’ rather than on a luxury yacht.

We wanted owners and guests of 80-metre-plus superyachts to feel more connected to the water and to enjoy the aft deck as they would be able to on a 30-metre yacht. To feel as though they were at sea, not on a ship. The result is not only functional, but it brings a sleekness to the lines of the yacht, as well as to enhance the sense of luxury.

Of course, since this pioneering design was revealed in 2006, there have been many evolutions in the water features of aft decks. Now it is not uncommon to see multi-deck waterfalls and pools that become helidecks or dance floors. It has been inspiring to see all the improvements made in this area of yacht design.


The striking black mast on Lürssen’s M/Y Quatroelle, designed by Nuvolari-Lenard, was first seen long before the 86-metre yacht was delivered in 2013. We first introduced the design of a black mast on the 72-metre CRN, M/Y Azteca delivered in 2010. 

Black masts became an iconic feature of all the largest Palmer Johnsons designed by Nuvolari-Lenard, as well as many of the masts we designed later, not to mention on many other yachts on the water today. With such black details, we wanted to achieve a more masculine, military look for the yachts, in contrast with the generally accepted ‘gentle’ look of the so-called ‘white yachts’.


We first considered a new and more guest-focused use of the foredeck on medium- and small-sized cruisers with our first line with Monte Carlo Yachts in 2009. Before this, the foredeck ‘features’ were commonly no more than a sun pad over the forward cabin. Today, this has become a popular area for guests to enjoy socialising, especially when at anchor or docked stern-to in a marina or port, as it gives more privacy than being in the cockpit. The majority of serial production shipyards have now introduced layouts with better use of the foredeck due to demand from clients.

Many of these design concepts that were introduced by Nuvolari-Lenard have been ‘adopted’ by other designers over the years. Sometimes it is done in a very evident way; in a few cases, we needed to take legal action. But we do not believe in trying to conceal and protect good work. In the design world, things must advance, and if we see imitation of our work, it means we must be doing something right. The only way to protect our ideas is to never stand still, and to always push further. By advancing our designs and continually finding new ideas, we will all do better.


Although Nuvolari-Lenard is currently working on a large number of projects that are both in build as well as in the design phases, we are unable to disclose details for many of them. In many ways, yachting is a peculiar part of the luxury sector. We design beautiful things that are created to be seen and admired over their existence, but a veil of privacy is pulled tight over them, especially during construction. 

As an example, we were asked to show little to nothing of our most recent design job, which took place over the course of four years. We carried out the exterior and interior design of the enormous 106-metre, three-masted sailing yacht S/Y Black Pearl, built and already launched (though not yet delivered) by Oceanco. The yacht displays various typical Nuvolari-Lenard exterior design features, as well as an incredible, classic Louis XVI interior, which was executed with tremendous precision and exacting attention to detail.

Even though both are being built to our designs, we are permitted to reveal little about the 139-metre motoryacht project at Lürssen or the sleek, 109-metre Y718 motoryacht at Oceanco.

The matter of privacy often overlaps matters of copyright, and both are commonly found peppering multiple chapters of yacht contracts. But owners need to face the fact that, in the end, once their yachts are on the water, they will become public objects whether they like it or not. Owners cannot prevent people from seeing or taking photographs of the exteriors of their large luxury yachts. Even the interiors of delivered yachts become public knowledge very quickly. The huge windows and aft doors that we design to create an ‘inside-outside’ feeling for owners will inevitably allow eyes and camera lenses to peek inside. And then the internet will make the images globally accessible. I always remind my clients who wish to build a yacht: “The market wants to know and builders need to show.”

In my view, it is better to be in control of the quality of these images, and to protect the yacht’s ‘brand’ (as all yachts of significant size and stature have a brand and a value), than to leave the job to the media-hungry public.

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