Lürssen’s Quattroelle: An unabashed celebration of life, love, liberty and luxury
By Justin Ratcliffe | Photos by Klaus Jordan
QUATTROELLE IS CERTAINLY NOT THE BIGGEST LURSSEN, nor is she the smallest, but she may well be the sweetest. The name means “four Ls” in Italian, and in the case of their new 86-meter (282-foot) superyacht delivered at the end of last year, the Ls stand for life, love, liberty and luxury, although not necessarily in that order. The four-L logo appears throughout the yacht—on the bow, the exhaust stack, the aft dining table and inlaid into the main lobby and aft-deck dining table. It was designed, along with Quattroelle’s magnificent interior and exterior lines, by the Italian studio Nuvolari Lenard, which has given physical form to the owner’s lifestyle ideals. The vigorous pursuit of those ideals is embodied in every facet of this yacht.
“In terms of the exterior, the owner wanted an objectively beautiful boat that also represents a Lürssen today,” says Dan Lenard, the design firm’s co-founder with his partner Carlo Nuvolari. “We don’t try to create a Nuvolari Lenard yacht; that you get anyway. Instead, we make an effort to respect the brand image of the yard we’re working with. If you deny that, then you’re not showing how much you can express in their design language.”
I had a good look at Quattroelle’s exterior lines from the 33-foot (10-meter) Super Indios day tender (one of two tenders supplied by Colombo Boats in Italy and custom designed by Nuvolari Lenard) as I was ferried out from the marina in Antibes on the French Riviera to the yacht anchored offshore. Quattroelle is Nuvolari Lenard’s first collaboration with Lürssen, having worked on similar-size projects with Oceanco, arguably Lürssen’s main competitor in the 260- to 295-foot (80- to 90-meter) range. The studio has produced an exterior profile that belies a yacht of just more than 282 feet overall, with a 45-foot beam (the shipyard has not revealed the gross tonnage, the true indicator of interior volume, but it cannot be much shy of 3,000 gross tons).
The exterior design changed very little from the initial concept sketches, including the distinctive half-moon portlights in the forward guest suites at main-deck level. More than any other design studio, Nuvolari Lenard has experimented with window shapes on superyachts; indeed, they are the most defining exterior feature of many of the duo’s projects.
“We try to imprint something on all our designs that makes them recognizable at first sight and that is often the windows,” says Lenard. “But the windows are only a small part in comparison with the total volume of the yacht. You could compare them with the wheels of a car: They may catch your attention, but the wheels don’t make the car.” While round portlights are a traditional design feature of yachts, not least because of their structural integrity, Lenard is candid enough to admit that they also chose to cut them in half “because it’s never been done before.”
What is fascinating about the way Nuvolari Lenard developed the exterior lines is that—amazingly—the firm still works with weights and splines like naval architects did before the advent of powerful CAD software. Lenard describes it is as an analogical, rather than a digital process.
“We don’t start with splines and curves from computer programs, which simplifies curves into mathematical shapes,” says Lenard. “Instead, we take our hand drawings and translate them dot-by-dot using weights and flexible splines. The curves created in this way are, if you like, a result of the tension of the splines, and the yacht is completely hand-designed. Why do we do that? Because this is what makes our designs look more sculptured and not just mathematical creations.”
This is not a process that happens just once. The studio will print out its 3-D designs on a large scale of 1:10 or 1:20 and then redesign them by hand back into the computer program two or three times, which means the designers can spend up to six months developing the CAD renderings. “You could say it’s like music,” he says. “Our designs are played and recorded analogically and then digitally remastered.”
Beyond the innovative exterior styling, it is the interior design of Quattroelle that best highlights the quality that results from German excellence, combined with Italian flair for design. Valentina Zannier is a junior partner in Nuvolari Lenard and the designer responsible for the interior concept. While a few pieces of freestanding furniture were supplied by high-end Italian brands, the bulk of the furniture was custom designed by Zannier and her colleagues. She worked closely with the owners after visiting one of their residences to establish what they liked or disliked in terms of materials and finishes. Given the scale of the project, the joinery and outfitting is by two leading German companies: Gehr and Würtzburger Werkstätten.
“Their house had quite a classic interior, but I was able to guide them in a different direction,” Zannier says. “We started with what kind of woods they preferred and moved on from there to develop a dynamic, yet sober design that best reflected their lifestyle.”
That process took almost a year and the results are breathtaking, so much so that it is impossible to encapsulate the breadth of materials and attention to detail in the space of a magazine article. The overall style also defies a generic description as it includes traits of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, along with elements of Zannier’s own invention. What unites the whole, however, is the relentless pursuit of perfection and a series of recurring themes or motifs.
One such theme is the preponderance of elliptical forms. Sometimes these shapes are on a large scale, as in the stuccoed cornices of the ceiling in the main salon and the immense Murano glass chandelier, supplied by Venini in Venice, over the dining table. More subtle organic forms appear in the joinery of the low tables and cabinet facades. Scenes from nature—birds, fish, blossoms—are another motif, reflected in the glass starfish faucets in the bathrooms or the champagne leaf (oxidized stainless steel) figures of birds perched on branches impressed into the rosewood doors between the salon and dining rooms. Artisans from the U.K., Austria, the Netherlands and Japan were commissioned to execute these artworks. They include Helen Amy Morris, a young British artist who created the wall panels in leather and silk that have been cleverly padded, cut and stitched to provide relief images of roses and other plant life, complete with individual petals and leaves.
Zannier drew on a bewildering palette of precious woods and marbles, from vavona, oak, sycamore, rosewood, bamboo and walnut, to onyx, quartzite, alabaster and Botticino marble. Even pressed-straw wall panels are used in a tribute to Jean-Michel Frank, the early 20th century French interior designer celebrated for his tasteful interiors and sumptuous furniture made of precious materials. The wood grains are exquisitely book-matched and juxtaposed to create texture and visual interest. The grain of the vavona floors and doors on the main deck, for example, is arranged in symmetrical waves that could never appear in nature. The solution was to cut the veneers into quarter-inch strips, bend them individually and then glue them together to create the impression of natural, solid wood.
The owner was already familiar with the Lürssen shipyard after previously owning the 192-foot (58-meter) Capri, which he acquired six months after her launch in 2003. The captain and chief engineer aboard Capri, Paul Bell and Robert Millar respectively, were both closely involved in the design and construction of the new yacht. In fact, Millar pressed the button to start cutting the steel. The engine rooms aboard superyachts have become shiny showpieces in recent years and Quattroelle’s is no exception. You could eat your toast and eggs off the spotlessly clean and perfectly aligned laser-cut floor plating of polished stainless steel. Even the engines are personalized with the nameplates “Greta” and “Juliette” after Millar’s own late grandmother and his wife’s grandmother (“My wife’s mother liked her drop of sherry, so it’s appropriate that Juliette drinks a bit more fuel than the other engine,” he jokes).
With their HUG particulate filters and soot burners to ensure low engine exhaust emissions, Millar is constantly tinkering with the 2,680-horsepower Caterpillar engines to improve performance. Just days prior to our visit, the yacht had transferred from Monaco to Antibes at a top speed of 18.4 knots after Millar had modified the fuel injector settings—more than a knot faster than her contractual top speed. Apart from being pretty, the engine room is eminently practical with easy access to equipment for maintenance and handy design details such as an oil tray that drains straight into the waste-oil tank.
“It’s just a few lines on a drawing,” says Millar, “but it means we can change the oil filters and leave them in the tray for a few hours to drain, then come back and quickly clean up the mess.”
Many of the IT and AV systems aboard today’s superyachts depend on Wi-Fi connectivity. Millar points out that there are no fewer than 143 wireless points aboard the yacht and GSM repeaters throughout to provide an uninterrupted signal, even below the waterline. The effectiveness of the system became apparent when the yacht was still in build and Millar was commissioning the water tank for the Jacuzzi. Working inside the steel tank with the manhole closed, he was somewhat taken aback when his mobile phone rang.
For his part, Bell had been happy with the bridge layout on Capri, which was sold in January 2010, and was keen to maintain the same level of simplicity and functionality aboard Quattroelle by avoiding too much gadgetry.
“We basically have all the same bridge equipment and the only upgrade of note is a FLIR camera, the thermal imaging, night vision and infrared system,” he says. “The console tops can be closed so everything looks clean and tidy if guests are on the bridge—useful if you have your sandwiches underneath.” Having worked for the owner for 13 years, he sums up the yacht as “a very good sea boat and amazing in every way.”
LOA: 282ft. 5in. (86.11m)
LWL: 242ft. 1in. (73.80m)
Beam: 45ft. 3in. (13.80m)
Draft: 12ft. 8in. (3.90m)
Displacement: 2,485 tons
Engines: 2 x Caterpillar 3516B-HD DITA-SCAC Series II; 2,682-hp (2,000 kW) at 1,600 rpm
Fuel: 60,495 gal. (229,000L)
Speed (max.): 17 knots
Range: 6,000 nm @ 12 knots
Generators: Caterpillar C18 DITA; 1 x 492kW at 1,500 rpm, 2 x 438kW at 1,500 rpm
Emergency genset: 1 x 192kW MAN
Freshwater: 10,725 gal. (40,600L)
Stabilizers: Quantum Zero Speed stabilizer system
Classification: Lloyd’s Register of Shipping (LRS)
Tenders: 1 x Limo tender, Colombo/LT, designed by Nuvolari Lenard; 1 x open tender, Colombo/LT, designed by Nuvolari Lenard
Naval architecture: Nuvolari Lenard
Exterior styling: Nuvolari Lenard
Interior design: Nuvolari Lenard
Guest cabins: 3 owner cabins, 5 guest cabins
Crew: 29 crew in 17 cabins