Name: Umberto Felci and Lorenzo Giovannozzi
Company: Felci Yacht Design
Position within company: Partners
Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc).
U.F.: I was born in Milan in 1964. My overwhelming passion for sailing developed on Lake Garda when I was invited to be a part of the national 420 youth team. My activities became more and more challenging, but I still had to find time for my scientific studies.
In 1985 I became a member of the 470-high specialization team where I remained in the team for more than ten years, racing in both, National and International competitions.
It was at the Milan Polytechnic where I started my research into the technical-construction aspects and the study of the physics of sails. This extremely intense activity reached its apex in 1989 with the participation in an Olympic quadrennium and my university degree with honours in architecture. My thesis was based on the application of composite materials in the nautical sector. Thanks to this specialization I formed part of the team of “Il Moro di Venezia” team’s challenge for the 1991 America’s Cup.
Having concluded this important experience, I decided to continue. I designed several boats in lamellar wood and using the most advanced applications of composite technology. In 1993 I designed and built the first Italian Mini Transat, Te’ Salt, sponsored by Montedison.
Alongside my design activities, I have been collaborating with Milan Polytechnic in the fields of yacht design since 1997.
I met Lorenzo Giovannozzi in 1998 and together we founded FELCI Yachts in 2001, a design and engineering firm which, right from the outset, has continually developed an incredible quantity of designs in different yacht categories.
L.G.: I was born in Milan in 1969. I started sailing racing dinghies as a child and became fascinated with everything nautical, from the boats themselves to navigation. After obtaining my high school diploma, I decided to enrol in the Faculty of Aeronautical Engineering at Milan Polytechnic so that I would be able to study the world of aero and fluid dynamics in more depth as well as the structural planning using composite materials.
I continued my racing activities in dinghies and catamarans side by side with the ever more challenging offshore navigation, taking advantage of every opportunity to weigh anchor.
I graduated in 1994 with a thesis about composite materials. I started collaborating with various naval architectural firms as a hydro-dynamic structures and appendices designer; I also worked in the research departments of firms producing components in plastic materials.
In 1998 I was invited to attend a specialization course in yacht design at the Università degli Studi in Florence. That’s where I met the naval architect Umberto Felci, with whom I began an intense and fruitful cooperation, leading to the founding of FELCI YACHTS.
Since then I have dealt with all the aspects of planning, tackling everything with my usual rigour and scrupulousness, whether it is hydro-dynamics, structural and production planning or composite and formal development.
What direction do you feel design is moving towards in general terms?
Sailing boats are becoming more and more house like objects and the sailing capabilities are becoming no more a key factor. This is the request of the general market, although there still an occasional elite owner who is still convinced of the importance of performance and continues to see a sailing boat as an efficient object to sail in any weather condition. These are the two visions in contrast that we try to mix together while also trying not to be too radical.
Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2018 and beyond.
– Sea worthiness
– Sailing performance
– Efficient construction
– Efficient design
Where do you feel yacht and aviation design is going in terms of schemes?
There are aspects that are not quite connected with the real quality of the object we are designing, for example interactive connections or extreme customization styles are gaining significant importance in the yacht and aviation design.
Today these are considered to be the key values and it seems that all what’s behind has less importance. Before that, technical aspects where predominant and very important for marketing orientated approach.
What projects are you currently working on?
Many different projects. From one side we are continuing to design new boats for Dufour Yachts brand, from the other we are developing interesting semi custom new project for new Italian brand ICE Yachts and some new customs with Persico Marine.
If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design schemes, what would it be?
In all of our projects we look for the ‘Essence’ of boat building, which often incorporates two fundamental aspects: the functional and the emotional.
This is a challenging process in which it is difficult to differentiate the contemporary necessity – from frivolous abstract. This keeps us constantly observing and researching to find that harmony. When we can achieve that balance, the results speak for themselves.
A long process that goes beyond nautical design; embracing various areas of design and architecture, because whatever you are realising – a boat, a home or an object – it is still aimed at people who are looking for both functionality and emotion.
What products/services could you not live without when designing?
Our computers and software. The virtual construction is now part of our design process and it would be impossible to reach the same quality going back to the original designing process. However, the concept and ideas must remain the base to work around.
How important are The International Yacht and Aviation Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
You collect a multitude of projects, ideas, styles and state of the art technology. These awards offer the possibility to update the vision of what’s under process in the world and to understand the novelty and tendencies.
Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself:
Your favourite place to travel to in the world?
U.F.: The mountain and the sea. I love nature under any aspects.
L.G.: I like the sea side very much, but I am also really in love with Sardinia.
Your most treasured possession?
U.F.: 100% my family.
L.G.: My heart supported by my head.
Your favourite hotel, restaurant and bar?
U.F.: I don’t have a special place like that. As long as it is simple, creative and able to surprise me with less.
L.G.: Typical food in typical places, rediscovering traditions.
Your favourite food and drink?
U.F.: Napoli pizza and Mediterranean food.
L.G.: Eggplant Parmesan and Chianti red wine.
The place that enables you to totally relax?
U.F.: On a cliff in Sardinia, looking at the sea.
L.G.: The Tuscany Versilia beach, especially in the sunset.
The place that gives you most inspiration?
U.F.: All the nature.
L.G.: The sea, swimming slowly.
Anything final thoughts?
U.F.: I do not believe that design represents an “added value”, i.e. that it is an undefined thing that makes two objects equally functional, one more attractive than the other one. I believe that design is an essential and inseparable part of every true project.
L.G.: The innovation that we bring derives from the continuous analysis of what we have done, in the constant search to go further, to continue to improve ourselves.