Garroni Design, the studio headed by Camillo Garroni boasts a lengthy partnership with Jeanneau and Prestige. It has numerous major projects to its name, including some in the commercial shipbuilding sector
by Niccolò Volpati, photo by Andrea Muscatello
«If it were up to my father, I would never have finished working my way up through the ranks. Even when working on a project together today, I say what I think, he does the same and then we let the waters settle», says Camillo Garroni. The studio has worked with Jeanneau and Prestige for over thirty years.
Plenty of water has passed under the bridge and the baton has been passed to Camillo, who now handles relations with the French shipyard and coordinates the activities for a very closely knit team. «We have worked together for a lifetime with people such as Mauro Pascazzi and Alessandro Picasso, while others haven’t been here so long. However, everyone knows what they have to do. This is the only way to meet the requirements of a large industrial group. We know what Jeanneau wants and the shipyard knows what we can offer it», explains the architect.
When the baton was passed from father to son, the studio managed to ensure renewal and continuity at the same time. This is an excellent result, which has produced some very good outcomes. Since 2008, during a period of global difficulty, the Garroni/Prestige partnership has produced one success story after another: 450 Prestige 500 sailing the waters around the world, 250 Prestige 550 and more than 1,000 42 S and 38 S, which came out in 2008.
In addition to a closely knit team and a thirty-year partnership, what is the secret behind these boats? How do you manage to cater to the tastes of boat owners around the world? «We produce boats for families and, although sailing culture differs significantly at different latitudes, the needs of boat users with partners and children are fairly similar».
There are plenty of anecdotes to this regard, such as when Camillo Garroni tells us that more than one Chinese client has asked for a boat without an engine, as they had no intention of casting off. «They were looking for a kind of extension to a villa, a social space». And then in South America, where the concept of family is more extended than here, in the sense that it is not restricted to wife, husband and children, but also nephews and nieces, in-laws, grandparents and even third cousins.
Despite these characteristics, some of which may seem a little extreme, families on boats always want the same things. Comfort, space, high performance and easy operation. One of the secrets is perhaps the layout of the interiors for crafts between 50 and 60 feet long, which has become something of a trademark for Prestige. In fact, in this kind of vessel it makes no sense to put the galley in a separate room. For boats measuring between 15 and 18 metres, the owners don’t need crew members, captains or even kitchen staff.
This is why a more open and sociable space, with the galley placed between the cockpit and the lounge is greatly appreciated. It may seem a commonplace idea today, because it has been adopted by many yards and designers, but that wasn’t the case until around ten years ago. «In order to work with a major shipyard, a designer needs to be almost omniscient», states Camillo Garroni.
Extensive planning is required to enable Jeanneau to churn out a new model every two years. A boat must remain current for five and seven years, plus the time needed to develop the design. «When I start thinking about a new boat, I always remember that it will have to be contemporary and relevant ten years later», adds Camillo.
In order to achieve this, a loyal relationship needs to be established between the shipyard and the design studio. “One off” jobs and excessive differentiations according to the range to be developed are a real no no. But this is not enough. A yard that strives for ongoing innovation is also essential. In the late 1990s, Jeanneau began making the first infusion-moulded hatches. Five years later, it was able to build the entire vessel using this technique. Coming up with a boat that won’t be old in ten years’ time means knowing how to plan ahead and not resting on your laurels.
«They’re trying out hybrid technology in France that makes it possible to improve the production phase and the boat’s weight:power ratio. They’re cutting-edge layering techniques and I don’t think I can tell you much more about them», explains Garroni. When working relationships are close, innovations are not just introduced by the shipyard, but also by the design studio. Garroni Design started using 3D software as soon as possible. The first one it used was Microstation, followed by Alias and Rhino and, most recently, Catia.
«Using a software like Catia was like taking a leap into hyperspace», states Camillo. «I don’t think many designers in Italy use it because it is very complicated and very expensive, but it allows us to see and share the changes we make to the design in real time, even if we are thousands of kilometres apart. Lastly, we create the files used for the numerically controlled cutters».
They work so closely together that they’re like two sides of the same coin. Vittorio Garroni has always known it. This is why he sent his son to the shipyard for three months in 1998. He needed to gain experience and learn about the needs of boat builders. Layering, infusion moulding, assembly lines – Camillo was able to watch and learn about it all.
«I visited the other side and realised that if someone has to hold their arm up for a long time and perhaps slide it into a narrow opening in order to build something I have designed, they might not be very happy about it», the designer tells us. The needs of a major industrial group that produces thousands of boats per year also include making life easier for its employees.
This starts with design. Comfort on board and comfort for the builders. However, it doesn’t go without saying that designing for mass production leaves no room for creativity. «I always put forward innovative designs to Prestige Yachts because I need to work on new challenges, otherwise my job becomes routine. We study the market, the needs of the owners, we listen to dealers and then we decide together which things we should take forward», says the architect.
Camillo Garroni seems to have everything mapped out. «I’ve never had any doubts about what to do in life. As a child I wanted to design cars, then I found myself designing boats. And I’m happy about it. I came to the workshop because I liked it».
(Camillo Garroni, I bring families to sail. All over the world… – Barchemagazine.com – July 2018)