Designer in Profile – Neil Zuleta Director of Interior Architecture & Design at HOLLY HUNT

Name: NEIL ZULETA        nz face pic f

Company:  HOLLY HUNT Enterprises, Inc.




. Tell us a little about your background (education, experience, etc)

I hold a marketing and a architecture degree, both obtained in Caracas, Venezuela. I moved to Chicago shortly after finishing school in 1999 where my first job in architecture was working for Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM).

I moved through smaller design/build firms through 2008 when I joined HOLLY HUNT and was asked to start the Interior Architecture & Design department. Since then, my focused has been to secure projects that appreciate design quality and are synonymous to what the HOLLY HUNT brand represents… a luxurious lifestyle.


. Where and how does the process for decorating the interior of a yacht begin?

The interior design process for the yacht (which is our first) started at the Monaco yacht show in 2015, after committing to execute the project. Attending the show helped us understand the industry, visualize the yacht interiors, design requirements and challenges specific to a yacht.

After the show, I was extremely stimulated with ideas and brought back a vast array of resources that made the design process exceptionally fluid.


. How does working on the interiors of yachts differ from other projects?

The yacht interiors are generally quite compact and have very low ceilings. Storage space is critical and finding clever ways to offer these without taking too much real state is challenging. We carved out storage spaces at every opportunity had and found creative ways to integrate conceal doors to disguise them. Also, architectural lighting and selection of rich finishes play an essential part to create the “look n feel” desired.


. What are your five must-have elements/features you would advise for someone to opt for when decorating a yacht?

The must have elements/features I advise are:

– embrace how compact the spaces are.

– use furnishings that have smaller scale but great proportions.

– incorporate built-in architectural lighting in creative ways.

– use ceiling planes to define areas or assign hierarchy to spaces.

– it’s a yacht; embrace the architecture and specially the vistas.


. What design elements would you suggest for creating a stylish interior of a yacht?

Select rich and natural materials, ones that complement each other. Use reflection and indirect lighting, this will help make spaces feel ample and lux.


. If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to development projects, what would it be?

It’s a team effort. Work closely with the shipyard, lead the design process and be involved in every aspect of the production process.


. How important are The International Superyacht Design Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?

I believe design and architecture awards are important because they recognize quality and innovations in design. It helps us designers to communicate our point of view and we can also inspire younger designers.


. What projects are you currently working on?

I’m working on the interiors of a $35 million PH and the common areas for a hi-end boutique residential tower, both in Miami Beach. We have also residential projects in Aspen and Chicago.


. What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?

To complete successfully my current projects. Success means; being able to deliver spaces that highlight my client’s lifestyles, yet comfortable but always luxurious. Spaces that reflect who they are or aspire to be and feel proud of.