For megayachts destined to be chartered, Nuvolari-Lenard created soundproof retractable walls that can change guests staterooms into suites. Otherwise who gets the sole master suite? “We take care of this in the layout,” Nuvolari explains. “It’s a sign of respect to give the higher rank the larger cabin.” But with multiple master suites, you can maintain your personal luxury while giving the necessary respect to your guests.
Though clients have final approval on interior design, “outside they let us work because it’s complicated. Inside they get more of a say,” Lenard tells me. “They want to be surprised. If they see what they ordered, there’s no surprise.”
And speaking of surprises, you might be surprised to know that even if you can’t afford a megayacht, you can still own a Nuvolari-Lenard-designed boat. Six years ago, the firm was approached by the management at Carver Yachts, which wanted to create a new high-end global yacht brand. “We looked at Carver’s position and [decided it] could either be a low-price entry brand or a premium brand with global markets,” says Robert Van Grunsven, president of Carver and Marquis Yachts. Deciding on the latter, he began interviewing several design firms who would create an entirely new line of premium production yachts.
Van Grunsven says he chose Nuvolari and Lenard because they had “the enthusiasm, the artistry, the style, and the creativity.” Moreover, he was attracted by their lack of arrogance for who they are and their passion for understanding markets.
Before Nuvolari and Lenard began designing the Marquis line, the pair went to numerous boat shows to scout the competition. Only then did they propose a design to Carver, whose designers would respond with whether the proposals were too expensive or wouldn’t work on a production line.
“We adopt our product to their philosophy,” explains Nuvolari. And as the partnership has progressed—there are now nine Nuvolari-Lenard-designed Marquis models—the firm has learned how to control weight and cost to create an efficient and desirable production boat. Today, the Marquis Yacht line of sport coupe and flying-bridge yachts stretches from 40 to 86 feet, but Nuvolari and Lenard are still looking to improve the designs. They continue to attend many boat shows seeking feedback from current and potential Marquis customers—what they like but particularly what they don’t like.
After my office tour, the three of us go to lunch at a small inn with a restaurant where Nuvolari and Lenard are greeted warmly as obvious regulars. We sit on a terrace overlooking a small, bubbling creek as the waiter recites the menu from memory. In the end I take Lenard’s suggestion of the orzotto, a creamy dish of cooked barley similar to risotto.
Over lunch and a bottle of sparkling wine, the conversation gets even more animated. Nuvolari and Lenard tend to finish each other’s sentences with increasing enthusiasm, and Nuvolari laughs when he tells me that their boats work because the three principals fight, but I can see that they fight only because each is so passionate about his or her craft. Nuvolari explains that Lenard wants the yacht to be more streamlined, while he wants the engine room to be bigger and Zannier fights for more space in the accommodations. Little wonder that they compare designing yachts to creating music, pointing out to me that there are a lot of good soloists out there without a conductor.
“We provide a complete solution,” adds Lenard.
The pair also takes great pride the fact they are solely a naval architecture firm and provide a complete “orchestra” to a customer. “There has been no successful yacht from non-naval architects,” says Nuvolari, explaining that the many attempted yacht designs have led shipyards to bankruptcy.
Nuvolari returns to his analogy of boats to cars: “A car is something you think of selling. A boat is like a girl. You are loving her in the moment. A boat is a big black hole of money.”
Lenard interjects, “Also like a woman!”
And when I ask them to describe the key characteristic of a Nuvolari-Lenard design, neither can pinpoint it. “Design is the only thing to back up its (a boat’s) value,” offers Nuvolari. “Our value is in ideas. There are 50 engineers in a boatyard to think of construction.”
“You cannot design if you don’t understand the passion,” says Lenard, and Nuvolari immediately adds, “There has to be the sparkle of something else to go from a good boat to ‘Wow! That’s MY boat!’”
It’s the end of the day, and Nuvolari and I are strolling back through Venice. As we walk, he’s greeted first by a former shipbuilder whose yard was bought and then closed. Further along, another man calls to him, someone who manages and rents out Venice’s moorings. It’s then I realize something else about these two: boats and yachts are not just a job but a part of their lives. It’s a passion that they don’t leave at the office.
Nuvolari-Lenard (+39) 41 584-1888. www.nuvolari-lenard.com.
This article originally appeared in the August 2010 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.