Megayacht News Leadership Series: Antonio Romano, Hot Lab

Formed in 2004 in Milan, Italy, Hot Lab Studio utilizes the collective imagination, talent, and creative spirit of three designers. Michele Dragoni, Enrico Lumini, and Antonio Romano have created interior and exterior looks for megayachts both large and small. As part of the Megayacht News Leadership Series, Antonio Romano describes Hot Lab’s ideal client, plus some recent challenging designs. What sets European and Americans apart in terms of the desires for a yacht?

Antonio Romano: We think that usually American clients are more “practical” and less attracted to fancy things. This explains why the sun deck of Nina is almost totally dedicated to carriage of tender and toys. Also in the internal layouts, you see differences. The galley, for example, is a space considered by Europeans to be a crew area. But for an American owner, the country kitchen look connects the galley with the main saloon and dining area. There is so much to talk about on this topic that I think we will need another interview! Are you busy with new projects, and if so, what can you tell about them?

Antonio Romano: 2016 is an important year for us. We have four yachts in construction and two more on the drawing board. In February we delivered our first interior design project for the Hylas 63, a sailing yacht designed by German Frers. In Bodrum, Turkey we have a 24-meter trawler with a stunning contemporary interior custom made for a private client. Then there is the Mondomarine M50 with both exterior and interior design down to us. In the summer we plan to launch the new Filippetti N26 with our custom interior for a private client. Another important Turkish build project to be delivered next year is a fully custom 216-foot megayacht whose exterior and interior is again by us. What makes a superyacht design fun to work on?

Antonio Romano: Bearing in mind that we specialize in custom projects, the nice part is that everything we do becomes new and exciting. The mix of client wishes, yard suggestions, and our concepts always creates an interesting melting pot of ideas that sometimes divert the original project into something with its own identity. For a yacht designer, what makes the perfect client?

Antonio Romano: Repeat clients are usually the best ones, because we already know their tastes and approach to any project.  In general our favorite clients have already several years of experience onboard of a motoryacht and have clear ideas about needs and tastes in term of design. The best client usually has a good team of surveyors, owners’ reps, and crew around so that they, too, can input proper contribution to the project. Do shipyards sometimes interfere with ideas you are trying to persuade a client to adopt?

Antonio Romano: It depends! The diplomatic answer is to suggest we work with shipyards in Holland, Germany, Italy, and Turkey, and sometimes there is a very different approach to the project. We take care of our creations, and we are always happy to receive good advice to improve the final quality. Some people say it is impossible to build a “green” megayacht that is totally eco-friendly.  What are your views on that subject?

Antonio Romano: Only a small sailing boat/yacht built in aluminum could be really be considered eco-friendly. There are several interesting eco-chic materials that could be used even now for a luxury project, but for a big motoryacht, they will be maybe just 15 or 20 percent of the entire building process. Is yacht designing a good career for students looking to the future?

Antonio Romano: Bearing in mind that I’m also a teacher of yacht design for a private university here in Milan, I would say yes! What has been your most challenging project to date?

Antonio Romano: The 360-foot Oceanco Primadonna fits that bill. She is not just a concept, but a fully developed project we worked on with the Oceanco design and engineering team. If you were able to verbally sketch your ideal client, what words would you use?

Antonio Romano: An intelligent self-made man, with a real passion for the sea, who truly wants to create an iconic yacht for a nonstop tour around the globe. Looking into your crystal ball, what yacht will be on your drawing board in 2024?

Antonoi Romano: Hopefully a luxurious submarine with big glass surfaces that can have the same comfort of actual 350-foot-plus megayacht.

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