An emotional push, the editorial by Franco Michienzi

A boat purchase should be based on rational thinking, but the push provided by our emotions is much stronger. The good thing is that this produces a state of mind free from any material interest

by Francesco Michienzi

WHAT DRIVES TODAY’S BOAT OWNERS TO BUY A NEW BOAT? We should begin by saying that nowadays consumers are more demanding and better prepared than ever before. They make informed decisions and are difficult to influence. However, like all human beings, they are often irrational: even those who consider themselves extremely rational people make choices dictated by their emotions. Studies conducted on people’s reasons for purchases show that almost 80% of consumer goods and almost 100% of luxury goods are bought based on emotions. There are no reliable statistics relating specifically to boats, but we can probably assume that the rational element is higher, given that the technical aspect must be given a great deal of attention, although it is probably still not the main consideration.

With boats, people make an emotional choice and then justify the purchase with the rational part of their brains, hence why shipyards demand the ‘wow effect’ when entrusting projects to designers. I had vowed never to use this horrible term, but in this case, it is essential to better explain my thinking. Over the years, I have often heard announcements of the forthcoming arrival of boats that are unlike anything that came before, and I have almost always been left disappointed.

I have seen lots of boats, but I have never felt the need to use this comic-book exclamation to describe them. The complexity of a boat design means that rational, highly considered, and innovative choices are required if it is to grab the attention of potential owners. A shipyard’s range should not be dictated by trends, but purely by changes in the habits and needs of owners. Its boats should reflect its historical values, and its ability to create a product that showcases the features and qualities it is capable of. Pursuing all avenues, including fantasy proposals, feels like a sign of cultural weakness, where everything becomes mixed up in a flavourless soup.

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I don’t mean to appear nostalgic by recalling Pilar, Ernest Hemingway’s boat, which is now being reissued in a modern version – I cite it merely as an example of a boat designed solely to be just that, not a floating house or a castle on the water designed to flaunt one’s success. A designer’s work should be based on clearly-defined guidelines that cannot be considered trends, but simply ways of making life at sea better: seeking to create boats that are simpler and cheaper to run, comfortable and welcoming.

Once boats were only for enthusiasts, people willing to make sacrifices to fulfill their desire to travel the seas. Today, however, shipowners have different expectations. Boats have to be places where one can pass one’s limited spare time pleasantly and without a care in the world. Fortunately, technology has improved the quality of life on board, improving seakeeping, reducing movement, and increasing accessibility more generally. Of course, if they are to create excitement, boats must also be beautiful.

Plato saw beauty as anything that offers the eyes and the mind proportion, harmony, and order, so that the various elements gradually arrange themselves into a whole shaped and ordered by one’s spiritual life, which, gradually freed from everything physical and perceivable, can be drawn towards its inner beauty and towards the concept of beauty as something eternal, perfect and immortal. The boats presented in this edition share this concept of beauty, revealing order, proportion, balance, and an innate sense of rhythm and harmony.

(An emotional push – Barchemagazine.com -February 2021)