Victory Design is the engineering and design firm established 30 years ago by Brunello Acampora, without doubt one of the liveliest, most dynamic minds in contemporary boating
by Carla Pagani – photo by Damian Ufor Coleman
Splendid Gozzo Sorrentino and Italian-style lobster boats, world records in competitions, marble sculptures and aromas. Put quite simply – total design. With Brunello Acampora, who is at the helm of one of Italy’s leading nautical design companies, design is all this and so much more.
«Design is infinite. It’s in continuous expansion»he says, seated at the desk in his office facing onto the port of Naples. Ships move in slow motion, and the mist that precedes the sirocco softens shapes and colours. Inside the Victory Design headquarters, a red table dominates in the nerve centre of one of the busiest, most dynamic and innovative Italian firms.
Seated alongside him is one of the cornerstones of the company, Massimo Bruni, who is as calm and laid-back as Acampora is garrulous and dynamic. They’ve been together for twenty years and are the perfect match.
Elegance, modernity and functionality – the name Victory Design is often associated with the famous Dolphin lobster boats, the result of typical Italian genius that absorbs different inputs to create something new.«The first model, the Dolphin 51, was revolutionary, not retro and completely new, a redesign job», states Acampora, unveiling a long series of episodes and accounts of rare beauty.
«Everything started in Studio V, which I shared with various architects in Turin», he continues, showing us a photo of his much younger self in the Piedmont office. An apprentice of Renato ‘Sonny’ Levi, a legend in the boating industry worldwide, Acampora followed in the footsteps of the genius. «If we think of the G50 or the Barbarina: Sonny combined aesthetics with functionality perfectly, connecting shape and quantity with skilful craftsmanship. He created beauty, crossing the limits of technology».
Just the same as Luigi Colani, another outstanding figure. The propellers designed by ‘Sonny’ Levi and resting on a shelf in the office speak for themselves. «They look like shells. When they turn the first thing to enter the water is the tip, like the hands of a swimmer».Pure poetry.
Steve Jobs used to say that design had nothing to do with the appearance of an object, but with its function.«The design is everything. It’s not a casing, it’s not just style. If an object is functional it will almost definitely be aesthetically appealing as well». The recipe can be summed up in one word – simplicity. “Less is more!”, as Mies van der Rohesaid. But simple things can be tricky, and have nothing to do with pervasive pseudo-minimalism.
«Design is about every aspect of planning, market analysis and management», states Acampora, quoting Owe Arup, the founder of the most important civil engineering firm in the world, which made ‘total design’ its motto. However, at Victory there’s also disruptive design, which is explosive, innovative and free from the shackles of passing trends.
«We’re not interested in being pigeon-holed into a specific sector or following the market, doing things in a hurry. Our job is also to stimulate customers. We want to be continually innovating, looking to the future as start-ups do, and working in different environments».
Victory Design has ventured into several areas outside the boating arena, including 3D modelling and robotic milling for some big names in sculpture, such as the Briton Tony Cragg, the Korean Park Eun-Sun and the Italian Paola Epifani, otherwise known as Rabarama. The marble is almost transparent with an airy quality, thanks to advanced, numerically-controlled milling techniques, in synergy with Henraux, a leading marble company in Versilia. The futuristic use of robotics is amazing. «The ‘Miracle Chips’ work of the Greek Anastassiades, engineered by Victory, is an example of it».
Not to mention the new multi-touch carbon consoles for the Italian Navy’s fleet, by Leonardo Finmeccanica. «They weigh only 47 kilo compared with the models they replaced, which weighed almost 300, and have also established new ergonomic and functional standards».
«Creating shocking design requires research» maintains Acampora, showing us one of the books he studied to design Gozzo by Apreamare, winner of the prestigious European Powerboat of the Year 2018 award at the Düsseldorf boat show.
And talking about the past, he shows us the lead weights and outlines he used to design curves when he studied in Southampton. «It’s important to keep in touch with the physical world, to understand where digital design comes from».
Looking to the future, he wants to design a super yacht deviating from the current rules. «The most obvious choices aren’t necessarily the best. A good dose of innovation mixed with simplicity is required, and I feel there’s a need for more courage in boat building. The role of breakthrough design hasn’t been fully understood yet».
This is the real challenge Brunello Acampora is setting the boat world, not to mention other areas. «Only a change of model can enable quality Italian businesses to express their full potential».
In the meantime, the historic family business, Acampora Profumi, the creative aspects of which are looked after by Victory Design, has launched a new fragrance on the market called Ruby, disruptive and freely inspired by the rose-hue chocolate produced by the Belgian company Barry Callebaut. Another challenge won – that you can bet on.
(Brunello Acampora and Victory Design: the keyword? Simplicity – Barchemagazine.com – October 2018)