Luiz De Basto is a professional yacht designer. Today he shared with us very useful information about yacht design. It will be interested for both beginners and professionals.
Luiz De Basto was born in Angola and spent his childhood there. With the war his family moved to Brazil where he went to college and got married. In 1990 Luiz moved with his family to the US where he lives in Miami since then. It was a real pleasure for us to take an interview with Luiz De Basto and learn some interesting facts of his biography. We are happy to share this success story with you too.
AP: Your first works. What did they look like?
Luiz: I started working in yacht design by chance. After my graduation as an architect, I was very young, only 22 years old, I took one year off to travel in Europe. Coming back to Brazil I opened my own office and at the same time started teaching at the school of architecture. One of my students asked me to help her father, who had just opened a yard, with their first boat, a 56′ flybridge model. I found the assignment extremely easy and interesting and my suggestions were immediately accepted by the yard, starting long term collaboration and basically starting my career in yacht design when I was 25 or 26. After all, boats and yachts are a perfect combination of two of my life passions, cars and architecture.
The first designs were a bit squarish in appearance for 2 basic reasons: they were drawn by traditional means on paper, no computers at the time, and also due to the limited construction methods and techniques. The superstructures were built using marine plywood and then covered with a fiberglass layer. Moreover, no curved glass was available, only flat and only of limited dimensions.
AP: Oh, as I see you had a very interesting life situation that made you to be involved in yacht design. By the way, do you have any formal education in design or were you self-taught?
Luiz: I got a college degree in architecture but in yacht design I am mostly self-taught, learning while doing. Working with this approach actually thought me something very useful, the disconnect from design and reality. Design is a wonderful tool to experiment and explore and represent your ideas but that’s all. You can and must design something beautiful but reality is not made of lines and colors, it’s made of materials and takes money. Only after a designer or architect goes through several design/construction cycles he or she starts understanding and bridging this disconnect. It’s called experience. Then you can become really creative, not a day dreamer.
To me the creative process sort of follows several steps. First you get the briefing from the client (or you can make your own). Parameters are very important, as opposed to what many beginners think, who may prefer total creative freedom (which may only exacerbates their capacity to produce utopia). Setting goals and limitations for the designer to confront and resolve is the only way to be creative, it’s when the designer can propose real ideas that address real problems.
Second you collect information about similar projects, learn from what others have done before you, from history, from other designers working today. All this information must be seen as a starting point, not as an arrival point, it’s not plagiarism. Many times checking what others are doing is even good for you not to inadvertently repeat an existing design, which can be frustrating to say the least.
Third phase is the creative phase, the best of the moments when everything ferments inside you and ideas start coming out. It’s time to experiment, to be intuitive, I sketch a lot and do not waste any sketch. Everything that comes to my mind is put on paper, even silly ideas or thoughts, it’s very important at this phase not to have a critical mind. All sketches are dated and numbered and I do all of them in the same size paper so I can organize them easily, I go back and forth a lot.
The fourth phase is when you criticize what you’ve done. Of course not everything is useful because you have been working accepting every single idea; they are all good by default on the creative phase. A critical state of mind can paralyze a creative state of mind, I never mix both, usually working creatively in one day and leaving the criticism for the next day. The worst thing a creative person can do is to think of something and immediately apply critical or analytic thought like how much this will cost, how this will work, etc. If ideas are coming to your mind let them come unrestricted, put them on paper and leave criticism to another day or better yet, to the client.
AP: Your useful tips about phases are great. I think they will be useful for both beginners and professional designers. Tell us please how you describe your yachts?
Luiz: Each project responds to a specific briefing and to its own sets of circumstances so each one is unique. I do not follow any line of design or tendency; I am not a spokesperson for modernism, or minimalism or any other ism because I believe the dogmas defining each movement are actually restrictive to my creative possibilities. I do custom design so each design is unusual. Sometimes you are asked to design a boat to fit in a certain segment of the market and sometimes you are asked to design a boat that stands out. However, every single time I try to surpass the client’s expectations.
AP: I absolutely agree with you, Luiz, and that is very important when a person has a specific style in design and overall in life. And what kind of equipment and techniques do you use to design yachts?
Luiz: I sketch and do preliminary technical drawings in pencil and then scan them and work on the computer. Every boat is by definition a limited space so precision is very important, the sooner we move to the computer the better. There are 2 parallel paths to my work, exteriors and interiors, and they have to be developed together. We use several 2D CAD, 3D modeling and rendering software.
AP: What is the most grandiose project you had to work on?
Luiz: Nothing really grandiose. The largest boat I designed and built is the 70-meter Seafair. It’s an art gallery vessel with a large internal volume and a very complicated program
AP: Wow, you build the 70-meter yacht. You do a great job! By the way, we noticed that Aston Martin Voyage Boat is your latest work. Why did you choose Aston Martin as a brand for Voyage boat?
Luiz: As a yacht designer and car aficionado I noticed some design concepts trying to bring the automotive style into boating, like Audi, Lamborghini or Ferrari boats. As an Aston Martin owner I realized that no one had proposed an Aston Martin boat to date so I decided to do it as a creative exercise. Before publication, I showed the design to the factory and they endorsed it. My version uses the green and yellow colors seen in the Le Mans factory’s racing team of a couple of years ago and they asked me to also make a white version. However, there are no plans for commercialization or production, for now it’s only an object of desire. If build it will be obviously a very fast boat, very comfortable and with a presence that will make you look good going to St. Tropez in a swim suite with your girlfriend and equally at night arriving to a gala dinner in a tuxedo. Bringing the Aston Martin brand to yachting seems like a natural step because it appeals to a sophisticated clientele, I see it as a cross market.
AP: I am sure you will meet a person who will be willing you to build this Aston Martin boat for him. Luiz, would you consider yourself as an expert in yacht design?
Luiz: Yes, I know how to design a yacht or a boat but I am always open to learn something new every day. The world changes around you and you have to adapt. I love what I do and it makes my business life a pleasure and many times my pleasure time is also business.
AP: May you please share the success formula in your activity?
Luiz: I wish I knew it. I can only tell you to be proactive, do not wait for someone or anything. Believe in yourself. If you know what you’re doing, then do it, be it, don’t wait for the right opportunity to appear, make it happen, go after. Learn how to accept rejection and don’t feel depressed about. Also, always talk to the decision maker. If you cannot talk to him don’t do it because it will be a waste of your time.
I must add that success is a moving target with many definitions. One can be a very good designer and not be famous or be famous and not be a good designer. A designer can have a wonderful and successful career, making money without being famous (their products are) and others can win awards and not make any money.
AP: Thank you for the inspiring words. Is there someone who supports you in your creativity?
Luiz: My wife works with me and has been a source of support; she understands that the design business is made of ups and downs which many times do not depend of your work being good or bad. Sometimes market forces are stronger.
AP: Would you like to wish something to your readers and AstrumPeople?
Luiz: Don’t just do it, be it. Don’t do just what is expected from you because that makes you average. The best way to raise above your competition is to ignore the logical thinking and be emotional, trust your intuition.
We’d like to thank you Luiz De Basto for his time and sharing such a great experience with us about yacht and product design. In conclusion we would like to add that as you see everything is possible to achieve and as Luiz said: “Don’t just do it, be it.” If you have a dream go and get it!
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