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Aug / Sep 2017
Against the Flow

WRITER: Michael Verdon

Ipanema’s Ferrari-red hull and busy interior may not appeal to everyone, but for her owner she is a dream come true.  

The ruby-red hull of the 49.2-metre Ipanema helped make her one of the most striking new launches at last year’s Monaco Yacht Show – the head-turning colour apparently chosen to match her Middle Eastern owner’s limited edition LaFerrari (one of just 499 built). It is, at least to our recollection, the first yacht to reference the famous prancing horse brand since the Riva Ferrari 32 of the early 1990s. And though five times larger in size, Ipanema was also built in Italy (at Mondomarine’s Cantieri Navali Campanella shipyard in Savona) and similarly features a powerful, sportscar-like exterior, characterised by a shallow sloping stern line and bold, cutting shapes in the superstructure profile.


Capable of reaching 19 knots, Ipanema has a trans-Atlantic range of 3,500 nautical miles at 12 knots.


Her interior on the other hand, is unlike anything we could have imagined. High-gloss mahogany, columns, friezes and bas-reliefs abound, and more than a dozen different kind of marbles were used in a cacophony of colours and materials assembled by interior designer Hot Lab. Yet, though she stood in heavy contrast to the minimalist interiors of the boats surrounding her in Monaco, it only took a little bit of time on-board before we gained an appreciation for the fearlessness of this design direction. Surprisingly, very few custom superyacht owners ever dare go "all the way" in following their dreams. More often than not, they choose to go with tasteful, muted and safe interiors that look more like modern hotel suites than bold personal statements. Not Ipanema however. Despite the 'what the heck' look on the faces of many of my colleagues at the superyacht’s media unveiling, I came to appreciate the eclectic nature of her interior. “We must have easily spent twice the time that we typically allocate to conventional interiors,” says Antonio Romano, one of Hot Lab’s three founders. The Milan-based company has become one of the most sought-after firms in the superyacht world. Capable of working a multitude of styles, it has designed yachts for all the most important yards including Oceanco, Feadship, CRN, and Benetti – and no two are ever alike. For example, though both embody a certain homey quality, the interior of the 40-metre motoryacht Divine, which won a World Superyacht Award in 2016, is soft and classical, and in stark contrast to the much edgier, contemporary look of the 45-metre Keyla, which won a similar design award for the best refit of 2014.


The high-gloss mahogany panelled saloon boasts full-height windows running along the entire main deck. Most unusually it features chintz sofas and armchairs beneath mirrored ceiling panels.


The Ipanema project came with an entirely different set of parameters. The owner wanted a “classic” look, which in his mind translated as a full-on ode to Renaissance design. To achieve this vision, Enrico Lumini, lead designer on the project, extensively researched materials and colours of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. “Before arriving at the final design, we tried something a bit less classical,” says Romano. But the owner was set on an interior that unapologetically reflected his colourful and nuanced taste. “He went into the smallest details, from the tiles in the sundeck pool to light switches, lamps, even the door handles,” Romano explains. “You know, most customers don’t have a lot of time to get into the nitty-gritty of their yacht’s design. But from day one, his attention to Ipanema was 100 per cent. He wanted everything customised.”


Dark woods, colourful carpets, textured walls, patterned marbles, mirrored ceilings and fancy ornaments can make you forget this is a brand new boat and not some painstakingly restored classic. 


The extensive list of materials in the scheme is most impressive. More than a dozen marbles, different types of onyx, mahogany and other hardwoods and countless fabrics went into the interior. In all, more than 37 patterns and textures were used across the two saloons, five staterooms and utility rooms. Mondomarine also ordered seven types of silk and wool carpeting to match the individual design of each room. Custom Murano lamps, hand-painted porcelain light switches and even metal handrails had to be specially created. “Everything was designed from scratch,” says Romano. “You’ll never find other carpets or frames like these.”

Hot Lab’s design also included technical details that add to the yacht’s grandeur. “We were able to add to the perception of size in the master suite by using a very large shower in the bathroom and incorporating a skylight over the bed,” says Romano.


The lavish interior has flexible accommodation for up to 12 guests in five cabins consisting of a main-deck master suite, a VIP suite, a double, and two twins. There are also two Pullman berths to allow space for two further kids. All the rooms come with their own entertainment centres and en-suite bathrooms. Additionally, there are quarters for 12 crew.


To keep it cohesive, Hot Lab used geometric patterns across the board to tie the gamut of colours together. “Each of the four guest rooms has its own colour,” says Romano. “We have red, yellow, orange and blue. We figured the owner would tell guests they were sleeping in the blue room or red room. But that meant we had to match each room with a different type of marble and specific fabrics to stay consistent with the colour scheme.”

The designers achieved a level of uniformity in the complex colour scheme by using the same blood-red flower motif across the yacht. The red flower, which the designers found in a Renaissance painting, appears 60 times in Ipanema, typically on the top of the lacquered black columns.



While the interior was key for this one-of-a-kind owner, he also wanted exterior modifications to Hot Lab’s original M50 concept. The M50’s strong profile and Ferrari red – the owner’s happy colour – were non-negotiable. So to emphasise the sporty, racing look, Hot Lab added black windows and an oyster-white superstructure. And because the owner had an 8.2-metre Monterey powerboat that he wanted as the tender, the planned large beach club at the stern and tender garage in the hull side had to go. Instead, Mondomarine created a deep tender garage at the stern, replacing the beach club and giving extra interior space. The yard also added four columns to support the deck above to support three jet skis, hiding the lifting crane into the furniture.

The result is a superyacht customised far beyond most, exemplifying the ultimate luxury of getting exactly what you want. Sure, this large Mondomarine may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but in the end, there is only one person who needs to love her – the owner.

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