How Alberto Mancini went from designing cars to yachts

Photo: Fairline Yachts

There’s something undeniably cool about Alberto Mancini. It could be his classic Italian charm or the gorgeous Monaco backdrop to our (online) interview. Or, perhaps, the fact that the 42-year-old founder of AM Yacht Design is the visionary behind the sleek and stylish Squadron 50 – among many other Fairline Yachts of late.

After realising his childhood dream of designing cars, Mancini made the switch to water-based vehicles and set up AM Yacht Design in Monaco. Besides British manufacturer Fairline, he’s also worked with the likes of Officina Italiana Design and Nuvolari Lenard as well as shipyards such as Overmarine and Azimut. And we have the feeling he’s just getting started.

Having grown up in Trieste, right by the Adriatic Sea, what does the ocean mean to you?

As a child, every single summer I went sailing on my family yacht around the Mediterranean Sea. Passion for sailing is almost like family heritage, passed down from my father to me. One summer in the mid-’80s, when I was nine, we were anchored in a bay close to Castellorizo, a remote island between Turkey and Greece. I remember looking at the other yachts around us and complaining about how they were so ugly and weird. So instead of swimming I spent many afternoons in the dinette of our boat, sketching ideas to improve the designs. My father was shocked!

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How important is it to understand sailing in order to design yachts and vessels for sailing?

It’s fundamental. You can’t be just an artist or designer; you can’t design a yacht properly if you don’t know anything about it. Whenever I cruise around the French Riviera, I learn something new about the yachting world. You have to always keep learning.

How has learning in both Italy and in Britain influenced your designs and work ethic?

The British sometimes are more conservative, but they organise every single detail of the design process. On the other side, Italians are more passionate and work in a creative way. The experience learning in both these environments has helped me a lot in collaborating with the Fairline design team. Sharing ideas and opinions is an important step in creating successful projects.

You were a car designer to start. How did you make the transition from car design to yacht design and are there transferrable design processes between the two?

I’ve been passionate about cars since I was a child. I grew up sketching cars everywhere. At age 18, I went to Turin to learn how to design cars but then realised that designing a yacht was much more fascinating – an automobile without wheels. The dynamism and elegance you see when looking at a beautiful car is enhanced in a beautiful yacht.

What were your design inspirations for the Squadron 50? And how do you apply your signature style to the Fairline models?

Fairline has a strong DNA, heritage and personality. One of the reasons they selected my studio to design the future of Fairline Yachts is the fact that I never forget the past. I always keep that family feeling and shipyard DNA in mind when working on a project. I’ve always been inspired by the automotive world, Aston Martin in particular, and that has always been my reference point in design.

The name Squadron actually reminds me of the aeronautics world. I designed the new Squadrons as a restyling of the originals. I like to give priority to aesthetics and functionality. I take a holistic view of each project, where interior and exterior must be coherent to a main concept. Every Fairline Squadron has been designed with a distinctive design language to maintain the beauty in terms of proportion, functionality and elegance. The latest Squadrons have an open flybridge, reminiscent of exotic openair convertible cars, so they are named Targa.

What would your ideal boat look like?

I would like a sporty, retro but futuristic 80-foot power yacht inspired by the classic J-Class sailing yacht [the original America’s Cup racers from the 1930s].

See also: Princess X95 rewrites the rules of yacht architecture

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