Diane M. Byrne
— December 2003
|Part 2: Isn’t it Magnificent?|
Malo Gusto next takes me on a dizzying tour of the eight dining rooms, each with extendable tables the eminent designer made himself of papier maché, then painstakingly covered with precisely cut squares of multicolored tissue paper. The effect is extraordinary, made even more so because he chose blindingly bright neon lights specifically to coordinate with the tones of both the tissue paper and the food being served any chosen day in each room.
Then there are the double guest staterooms, each named for a different shade of green. “Oh, this must be the Lime Suite,” I coo, as we enter the 40th of the 50 double guest suites. I take in the elegance of the bright-green sod being laid underfoot instead of carpeting and a small army of workers meticulously trimming each blade to the same precise height. The velvet Elvis above the bed is the only departure from the green theme. Malo Gusto furrows his brow and says curtly, “This is obviously not the Lime Suite; it’s the Sea Green Suite.” I stand corrected when I notice the waterfall being installed at the foot of the bed; it will gurgle with real sea water pumped directly from the oceans Sayonara will travel upon when she’s delivered early next year.
Malo Gusto shoos me out of the room and into the Purple Haze elevator (so-named for the lilacs planted in window boxes along the back wall) in the guest foyer, and we exit onto the 10th deck, completely devoted to what he calls the pièce de resistance, the private saloon for Ellison. When finished, it will be a combination disco and Japanese temple, authentic right down to the fact that it’s being constructed without a single nail. Ellison’s admiration of Japanese culture is legendary, and Malo Gusto wanted to tap directly into it. But he also wanted to bring his own creative edge to the design. That’s where an 18-foot-long onyx console that Malo Gusto covered with license plates comes into play. Its top slides open to reveal row upon row of push buttons. He presses one, and an 80-pound slab of turquoise overhead parts silently to reveal a dazzling pink glitter ball. He presses another, and ermine-covered speakers drop into each corner of the room, playing “Boogie Wonderland.”
While Malo Gusto is thankful of having so much deck space to work with, he seems disappointed as we conclude our day on the flight deck, where I wait for Ellison to return from buzzing Microsoft’s headquarters in his Italian Marchetti S211 jet fighter (disarmed—for now). “Of course he’s keeping the flight deck,” Malo Gusto exclaims. But he confides that he would have rather transformed this 119'6"-long space into an enclosed garden. He opens his portfolio, which he’d left here while we took our tour, and reveals concept drawings showing a remarkable assortment of benches carved from the trunks of cherry blossom trees growing on the foredeck, interspersed with tufted chairs covered in cloth adorned with thousands of rising suns.
He’d also have preferred to get his hands on the carrier’s original steam-powered catapult, which Ellison plans to use to launch frozen giant tuna at the boats of Ernesto Bertarelli, owner of both the Feadship Vava and Team Alinghi, which beat out his Team OracleBMW in the America’s Cup race earlier this year. Malo Gusto wanted to cover it in the same tufted chamois as in the master stateroom, to make it a comfortable toy for launching swimmers into the water.
“Magnificent,” he says wistfully, “and so avant garde.”
This article originally appeared in the November 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.