Simple Pleasures

Cantieri di Pisa’s Element By Diane M. Byrne — February 2003

Simple Pleasures
Element, the largest yacht built by Cantieri di Pisa, employs minimalist forms for a sophisticated, modern look.
 More of this Feature

• Part 1: Element
• Part 2: Element continued
• Element Specs
• Element Deck Plans
• Element Photo Gallery

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• Cantieri di Pisa

In the 1930's and 1940's, well-heeled Parisians turned to designer Jean-Michel Frank to ensure their homes reflected a unique style. Inspired by neoclassicism and primitive arts, Frank took an approach to interior decorating and furnishings marked by spare, rectilinear details and the use of unexpected materials--picture vellum-sheathed walls as well as bleached-leather and sharkskin furniture coverings. Because of his originality, Frank is widely credited with reinventing decorative arts, and today he continues to have a powerful influence on contemporary designers and progressive-minded individuals.

In similar fashion, when Cantieri di Pisa began building its various motoryacht series more than 30 years ago, it introduced an austere exterior styling that stood in marked contrast to the traditional designs being offered by other shipyards. Whether those who bought the Italian yard's yachts--ranging in size from about 39 feet to more than 100 feet--were nonconformists or just craved something a little different, the styling met with success.

It would have been easy for Cantieri di Pisa to adapt its styling in the ensuing decades; after all, that's what most yacht builders do. But the yard's managers and in-house naval architects believe there's a lot to be said for having a consistent, signature look: low-profile, streamlined, even architectural, particularly in comparison to the prevailing rounded shapes of today.

So it's no surprise to learn, then, that a Frenchman looking for an out of the ordinary custom motoryacht turned to both Cantieri di Pisa and an interior designer who took his inspiration from Frank. The result is Element, which at 140 feet is the largest yacht built by the yard and also its first trideck.

You can tell you're in for something different just by looking at how the name is painted on the transom: all lower-case letters, in a typography that's at once uncomplicated and neat. It gives the impression that Element is, well, elemental.

That's certainly an appropriate description for the way the interior design flows from room to room--and, even more noteworthy, complements the exterior styling. Think about the custom yachts you've seen; chances are more than a handful come to mind where the rococo interior decor just didn't harmonize with the aggressive exterior lines. Not so aboard Element. The architectural emphasis flows right on through the aft deck doors into the saloon (which also contains the dining area). In fact, the influence of Frank is evident immediately. Instead of employing traditional planks of paneling to cover bulkheads and creating a seamless look by aligning the grains, the design team--comprised of the yard's in-house department and the owner's interior designer, Frédéric Mechiche--produced a block-like pattern with grains opposed for effect.

Next page > Element continued > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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