Founded in 2015 by Paolo Dose, VYD Studio, based in Trieste, Italy specialises in the interior and exterior design of superyachts. The firm has collaborated with numerous shipyards worldwide, including Ocean King, Heysea, and Mengi Yay. Notably, VYD has penned the exterior designs for the entire Mengi Yay 47m Virtus series, with the latest addition being the 47.3-metre superyacht Ancora.
Throughout his extensive career and before the inception of VYD Studio, Paolo Dose has collaborated on projects with international designers such as Nuvolari Lenard, Tim Heywood, and Winch Design, as well as shipyards such as Isa Yacht, Tecnomar, Ocean Alexander, Oceanco, Baglietto, Sanlorenzo, and Heesen.
Superyacht Times had the opportunity to interview VYD Studio founder Paolo Dose to explore his background, his approach to working with clients from diverse geographical backgrounds, and insights into the latest trends and ongoing projects.
Could you tell me about your background and what led to your entry into the yachting industry?
I’ve always had a passion for yacht design, which initially led me to consider pursuing a career as a naval architect when I studied engineering in Trieste. After a year of studying, I had the privilege of meeting Luciano Di Pilla, a prominent figure in the world of interior yacht design, known for his work on some of the largest yachts of his era. His portfolio included refit projects on the 86-metre Benetti Kingdom 5KR (previously called Nabila) and the 114-metre Blohm & Voss Lady Moura, as well as the interior design of the 112.8-metre Bremer Vulkan superyacht Le Grand Bleu.
I was presented with the opportunity to work alongside him, which led me to leave university and join his team. I believed that gaining hands-on experience with the best in the industry was more valuable than completing my education. Di Pilla had great faith in me and our first joint project involved the refitting of the guest area on Lady Moura in 2001.
You are involved in both interior and exterior yacht design. Did you initially start with interior design and then expand your expertise to include exterior design?
In the early stages of my career I was primarily focused on interior design and my expansion into exterior design happened somewhat by chance. In 1999, I was skilled at creating virtual renderings. It was during this time that Di Pilla expressed the need for someone to develop renderings that represent his ideas. As our collaboration evolved, he noticed that I had an eye for colours and materials, and suggested I venture into interior design on my own. Driven by my interest, I started creating interior renderings independently.
Di Pilla then started to encourage me to expand in exterior design renderings, even though he himself was not involved in that aspect. Around 2001, my skills in exterior design further developed when Tim Heywood came to Di Pilla to provide consulting on a 70-metre project. I spent some time with Tim and enjoyed learning from him and working in exterior design.
Could you share the story of founding VYD Studio and how the firm has evolved over the years?
I established VYD Studio in 2015 with the primary aim of forming partnerships with shipyards to bring our design projects to life. Our journey began with refits on smaller yachts, including a 25-metre sailing yacht. Then in 2016, we collaborated with Mengi Yay on a concept, and by 2017 were initiated our first full-project, the interior and exterior design of the 43.69-metre Tatiana V, delivered in 2019. Subsequently, we penned the exterior of the 35.5-metre Sea Star, delivered in 2020.
In 2017, we started to work with the Chinese shipyard Heysea. Our first project encompassed both interior and exterior design for the Heysea Asteria 142 series. The project’s first unit was the 42.27-metre Song of Songs, delivered in 2022. Currently, we remain actively involved in the design of the second and third units, each measuring 43.27-metres in length, in addition to overseeing the production of two lines of catamarans and a 35-metre Heysea yacht.
In 2019, we then partnered with Ocean King for the exterior and interior design of the 36.8-metre Ocean King Vãyus, which saw its launch this year. 2023 stands as our most successful year to date, with six yachts ranging from 37 to 47-metres and originating from three different continents and tailored to unique and discerning owners.
For a designer, one pivotal moment holds paramount importance, the first launch. The outcome of this inaugural project can make or break a career. A successful launch, indicating the creation of a high-quality product, paves the way for career progression. A less favourable outcome can pose significant challenges.
In the case of VYD Studio, we have substantially developed and grown since 2017, following our successful first launch, which subsequently has led to our involvement in a total of 12 projects.
Could you please share the origins of your collaboration with Mengi Yay and any upcoming projects you have in partnership with them?
Our collaboration with Mengi Yay was facilitated by a mutual acquaintance, Lorenzo Cappugi. The collaborative synergy between VYD and Mengi Yay has consistently delivered successful superyacht projects, with the VIRTUS line being a notable example. This year along with Ancora, we have launched the 39.43-metre Reverie, the 43.5-metre Gisa.
Currently, we are expanding the Virtus series with the luxury explorer XP series, which was unveiled during Monaco 2022. Two 53-metre units are currently under construction, with scheduled delivery in 2025.
To transform the design of the luxury explorer XP series into reality, VYD starts from the inside, perfecting and optimising the general arrangement (GA) to ensure a balanced and enjoyable yacht. Once the interior spaces are interconnected and well-conceptualised, we extend our design process to the exterior, creating a shell that not only contains but also enhances the interior innovations. The result is a vessel that combines the sturdiness and safety of an explorer yacht with the modernity and style of the Virtus Line, offering a “Luxury Explorer” experience.
Key design features of this under 500 GT project include an owner’s cabin on the upper deck with access to a private open deck with a pool, a permanent helideck, a spacious beach club with a pool directly connected to the sea through unfolding sea terraces, guest cabins on the main deck for optimised crew space on the lower deck, exterior areas that can be either open or enclosed through windshield glass and a substantial elevator connecting all decks.
My most recent design with Mengi Yay, involves the construction of the 34.5-metre explorer yacht named Atlante Classic, with a scheduled delivery in 2025.
Could you provide insights into recent emerging trends within the yacht industry?
In the 1990s, many yacht owners had a limited understanding of the technical nuances, such as the differences between composite, steel, and aluminium as well as distinctions between displacement and semi-displacement hulls. However, the landscape has evolved significantly. Today, yacht owners tend to be more knowledgeable and proactive in their enquiries, thanks to factors like globalisation and easy access to information. Moreover, seasoned owners with four, five, or six vessels under their belts, now have a clearer vision of what they seek in the market.
As a designer, my role now often extends beyond aesthetics. I frequently find myself engaged in discussions covering a range of topics, from generator engines and stabilisers to hull forms. While my primary focus is on design, I also delve into engineering discussions to address the intricate demands of modern yacht owners.
The shift in preferences has been notable with speed no longer the exclusive focus. Instead, there is a growing emphasis on comfort, insulation, reduced noise, and the efficient utilisation of interior space.
If you could purchase your own yacht or advise a client, is there one design feature you feel has the most impact on a luxurious experience onboard?
The ideal onboard experience lies in the versatility of spaces. Specifically, areas like the sky lounge and saloon should be designed with a sense of adaptability. For instance, these spaces should be convertible so that, in the spring, you can enclose and control the internal climate, while in the summer, they can be fully open to the elements. This means that you can choose to keep them open during the day and, if needed, close them at night. The idea is to create flexibility in these spaces, avoiding rigidity.
Moreover, I also appreciate the concept of neutral fixed furniture, walls, ceilings, and floors. This neutrality allows for the ease of updating and modernising the interior over the years by making changes to specific elements. This way, you can maintain a contemporary interior with minimal adjustments.
Finally, any exciting projects or developments you would like to unveil?
Besides our ongoing collaboration with Mengi Yay, we are also engaged in a venture with Tureddi Shipyard. Furthermore, In recent months, we have been involved in another project: a spacious and truly sustainable catamaran. We view this vessel as a platform to explore innovative solutions and challenge the limits traditionally associated with multi-hull designs, particularly in terms of space and luxury.