Editor’s note: While Sam Sorgiovanni established Sorgiovanni Designs in 1997, his yachting career dates back a little over a decade more, with the Oceanfast shipyard and the late designer Jon Bannenberg, whom he considered a mentor. Since then, Sorgiovanni has collaborated with a number of owners and builders on new contracts and refits. Here, he shares insight into refitting your superyacht, based on the experienced he’s gained over the course of three decades.
All pre-loved-yacht buyers want to refresh the interior by personalizing it to their taste. Sometimes they will even undertake exterior changes or additions like an extension by a few meters. Whether it is a cosmetic treatment or a structural redesign, few owners are willing to undergo a lengthy refit process. We are often asked to finalize a refit project in January with an Easter delivery…. A refit is no less involved than a new-build project. You have to understand what’s there and how to work with it before you start on design solutions.
Most of the time, the soul of the yacht has to be preserved. The refit must take this into account, to give a boost without denaturing the style, to bring a touch of modernity without exaggeration, finally to sublimate the yacht. I like to follow these rules and submit them to clients before entering into the process of refitting your superyacht.
By simply adding new fabrics and loose furniture, we as designers can create a whole new feel for the boat. It is pretty fast and simple to refresh the interior. Adding new artwork and decorative accessories as well completes the beautiful, new visual effect. When you board a yacht after a refresh, only then you realize the negative effect that the sun and salt had on fabrics and certain interior finishes.
A smart designer looks at adapting existing elements rather than stripping them out. Furniture and joinery can be modernized. For instance, a classic wooden high-gloss dark panel can be stripped and refinished. We have used a lot of sustainable materials for some years when refitting yachts, such as frog and fish skin, other leathers, and bamboo. We also like to find ways to repurpose existing spaces for a more modern lifestyle. For instance, a flexible area can be a guest cabin or office when not in use, or even a beauty salon.
Light is yet another important factor in a yacht-interior renewal. Consider quality lighting of varying degrees of power, and especially in the right places. Additionally, make maximum use of natural light. The special treatment of the windows plays an important role, as do the curtains or blinds in front of them (below), depending on the choice of colors and the material.
Technology evolves so fast that it’s often necessary to replace the lighting as well as the audio and video systems when you’re refitting your superyacht. However, if you decide to tackle a renovation of the entire onboard systems, call in specialists in this field. In addition to installing a state-of-the-art system, they’ll install an upgradable system that can accept new developments in the future.
No Major Structural Changes
If you’re in a hurry, don’t undertake major structural changes, since this involves engineers and probably classification organizations. Additionally, it inevitably takes time. However, if you do want to alter the structure, then it’s important to fully design, engineer, and where possible pre-manufacture elements. This streamlines the refit period and enables the works to be performed in the yacht’s downtime. It’s therefore ideal to undertake the work in the autumn or winter.
Dedicated owner’s representatives are essential on any project. They can make all the difference to a project running smoothly and efficiently. It’s further vital to choose a yard with experience in refits. We always recommend using some of the tradespeople that built the vessel in the first place. Regardless, working with a reputable yard is essential for the best possible outcome.
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