It’s not every day that Valentina Zannier, chief of interior design at Nuvolari Lenard, refers to a hanging glass sculpture as “an example of insane engineering.”
And yet, the description befits Falling Feathers, created by Precosia Lighting in the Czech Republic for the 378-foot (115.1-meter) Lürssen Ahpo. The sculpture floats in the void of the central staircase, from the uppermost ceiling to the lower deck. “Metal and crystal pearls comprise the single feather, each one with different shades of amber colors to match the wood of the elm wood stringer,” Zannier explains.
The sculpture is just one among countless standout elements aboard Ahpo, which launched in 2021. She is the outcome of a longstanding, trusting relationship among the experienced owners, their representatives at Moran Yacht & Ship, the Lürssen yard and Nuvolari Lenard, which handled interior and exterior design. The same team was responsible for the owners’ previous yacht, the 283-foot (86.1-meter) Quattroelle that Lürssen delivered in 2013.
Ahpo is considerably bigger than the owners’ previous yacht, adding volume and expanded space for the family’s use. Within that space are countless circles, curves, swerves and flowing organic lines related to nature. The dining room table, for instance, is glass with embedded waterlilies swirling in concentric circles like ripples in a pond. On the lower deck, in the wellness area, a bamboo grove is encased in backlit frosted glass.
Carlo Nuvolari, who co-founded Nuvolari Lenard with his partner, Dan Lenard, more than 30 years ago, says the owners of Ahpo wanted a yacht that was exquisitely beautiful inside and out. “Long, flowing lines are a signature of our designs,” Nuvolari says. “Overall proportions are key.”
Zannier, a partner at Nuvolari Lenard, says the firm’s many years of working closely with the owners helps when creating a design that meets their expectations.
“The whole family is very close-knit,” Zannier says. “Their teenage daughters’ respective VIP staterooms are integrated within the owners’ private quarters. The owners embrace an extremely healthy lifestyle, and they love nature. We worked together with them on portraying nature in the yacht’s design.”
Just one example of an homage to the family connectivity is the interlocked chain design of the balustrade Zannier created on the stairwell at the private owners’ deck. Seeing those types of details in the design was important to the owner of Ahpo, a Jamaican-born, Canadian businessman and philanthropist who has owned and chartered many yachts.
“The owner was always very interested in every detail and was always close to the project,” says Peter Lürssen, CEO of Lürssen. “He visited the shipyard as often as he could, and between his visits, he was always kept up-to-date on progress by his representative at the shipyard.”
Ahpo has seven decks and accommodations for 16 guests, with quarters for 37 crew. Two prominent guest areas are the 2,206-square-foot (205-square-meter) wellness area adjacent to the substantial beach club, and the 2,637-square-foot (245-square-meter) duplex owners’ deck. This latter family space incorporates a 1,023-square-foot (95-square-meter) panoramic salon on the upper deck of the apartment, connected by a private staircase. Aft is a glassed-in winter garden and dining area, verdant with greenery. There is also a gym there and a 26-foot (8-meter) swimming pool with a countercurrent system.
The master suite is replete with Venetian glass from Murano—including the furniture, which is decorated with a cast glass frame. In the bathroom and dressing room is onyx in shades of pink, viola and “fantastico” with vivid shades of other colors. Her bathroom includes a cherry-tree design with blossoms and birds that are replicated in the shower mosaics. The custom vanity desk is pink and ivory sycamore combined with rose- and champagne-gold metal inlays. His and her bathrooms each have freestanding tubs crafted by hand. His is black and gold; hers is rose gold and copper. Crystal chandeliers are custom-made to match.
The daughters’ suites are also differentiated by color: One is sage green, the other vivid pink.
“These rooms are a celebration of happiness,” Zannier says. “The subtle gingko leaves, which are barely visible in the white pearl wallpaper, were hand-painted by the artists at de Gournay in Paris. Behind the beds, there is a suede panel which has thousands of very small leaves, cut out of suede from British artisan Helen Amy Murray. This detail, I created to express the joy of life.”
Ahpo’s lobby staircase is the yacht’s true focal point. In addition to the sculpture, it incorporates backlit calacatta marble step risers. The sculptural handrails of branches and volutes, in bronze, were designed and forged by hand in Germany. A bas-relief in white plaster running up five decks was realized by DKT Artworks in London. The theme, Zannier says, is an olive tree representing the power of life in nature. At the top of the staircase on the ceiling is a hand-painted Chinese mural of clouds.
The five guest staterooms share design themes of flying cranes and flamingos with features such as feathers stitched into the walls in suede, bespoke carpets with wing features, and bathrooms where the marbles and mosaic merge in a unique, complex technique across the walls and floor.
A boardroom greets guests as they enter the interior on the main deck. On the walls is a mosaic of the Jamaican Blue Mountains by Italian mosaics company SICIS—a work executed by cutting each small element with scissors, similar to the technique of artists in Byzantine churches. The custom conference table has an antique map of Jamaica engraved in bronze and embedded in deep blue resin.
Creating these types of pieces requires teamwork on many levels.
“It really is important to establish a very strong understanding between fabricators and the designer,” Zannier says. “That’s why I often get the same team of engineers and people from my go-to outfitters, to transform our ideas into something buildable and perfectly executed.”
Vedder in Germany completed the owners’ area and grand lobby. Austria-based List GC was responsible for the spa and wellness area, boardroom, main deck salon, grand dining, owner lounge and gym. MVS, with locations in Greece and Germany, built the five-stateroom guest area and the 12-seat cinema room.
Aboard a superyacht such as Ahpo, the difference is in the details—and the details require the artistry of many hands.
Green, Inside and Out: While nature and greenery are interior design themes, efficiency and the desire to be as eco-friendly as possible were part and parcel of the overall engineering. Ahpo has an exhaust-treatment system that reduces nitrogen oxide levels and generates less noise and vibration. Similarly, diesel generators have additional heat exchangers used for the pool, hot tub and service-water systems. This setup helps reduce any thermal energy loss through repurposing and reduces the need for electric heating systems elsewhere on board.
This article was originally published in the Winter 2022 issue.