Guiseppina Arena, naval architect and interior designer for the Ferretti Group, shares about her history in naval architecture and her passion to create the perfect boat for each client.
SB: How did you become an interior designer and become interested in yachts?
GA: I studied architecture at the University of Florence, where I received my license in architecture. After completing my thesis on the main theatre of the Grand Princess, I received my Masters degree in Italy for Yacht Design, where I studied yacht architecture. Giacomo Mortola of GEM Studio in Genova is the naval architect of Princess Cruises, and he offered me a job with his company. I worked five years designing the interiors of beautiful cruise ships, in addition to working for several shipyards in the world.
SB: I have seen the custom design and style you produce for customers of Ferretti, specifically on Bertram. What is the process of taking a design idea and turning it into a yacht?
SB: If a client owns a boat or is ordering a new one I work directly with him. The first step is to understand his needs, which starts with his preferred layout. The second step is to work on the hard décor: choosing the wood for the furniture, defining the typical detail—the lighting, the floor, the wall covering—all the materials. Then I move on to choices for soft décor. Both hard and soft décor have a very important role in obtaining the right atmosphere for each specific area on a client’s boat.
SB: What is your favorite part of the interior design process, and your design project to date?
GA: My favorite step is choosing the materials. I am always trying to find new products and materials never before used in the marine world to create a unique boat for each specific client. My favorite boat I have designed is the Pershing 115.
SB: What are some of your signature styles and features that set you apart from other interior designers and decorators in the marine world?
GA: I like clean spaces that are very elegant yet comfortable, and I pay careful attention when I choose the primary materials. I like to use very high quality, and I am extremely picky with the little details because I want my clients to have the highest quality in our boats. I also don’t use many colors. I like colors only for accents that give personality and feature the neutral, chic spaces.
SB: How has your design for Ferretti progressed most significantly in the last 10 years? What are some of the most noted changes?
GA: In the last 10 years the quality and the technology have improved a lot in the way we build our yachts. The most significant research was to create a better connection between the interiors and the exteriors of the boat with balconies, bigger windows, improved space of the interiors, and the overall livability in our Ferretti line. Our Pershing designs specifically improved the performance, sport and aggressive style using innovative materials.
SB: How do you see interior design in yachts evolving over the next few years?
GA: I think the design of boat and yacht interiors is [and will continue to be] more and more customer-oriented. Also, the customization of interiors starts at a lower range—like 50 to 60 feet—, which offers more affordable luxury. Years ago this was not common, but now shipyards and manufacturers realize it is important for customers to have custom or semi-custom boats. Even if they start with a smaller boat, it is not unusual for them to upgrade over the years, which creates loyal customers.
SB: Have you seen technology play a role in the advancement of design in your field? If so, in which ways?
GA: Of course! Nowadays, high technology becomes one of the first requests of the clients when deciding to buy a new boat, especially if it is customized. They require everything controlled by iPod or iPhone among other mobile, hands-free devices. I actually designed a boat where all the cabinet doors were controlled by a re-programmable bracelet.
SB: Have your designs received any specific recognitions or awards?
GA: I was given an award for my design of a fast patrol boat for the law enforcement agency Guardia di Finanza in Italy. I was working for a shipyard that produced military boats and speedboats, which was very interesting!
SB: Where and what type of boating/fishing do you enjoy personally? Do you own a boat?
GA: I prefer speed when I’m boating—it gives me adrenaline. I would like to one day buy a fast boat—I’m not sure which make yet—to name it Ginger after the first Catamaran I designed. Designing boats is my passion and I am so happy that my job permits me to create a new experience for clients on the water each time. If they are happy and love their experience on the water, I reached my goal.
By Christine Carpenter, Southern Exposure May 2014