PART 1 of a 3 PART SERIES: The Stradivarius – 120m superyacht concept; “The Architect of Sound inspires a Design Merchant in Venice”
Dubbed the L’Enfant Terrible of Yacht Design, Alexander McDiarmid and his studio’s reputation for exceptional creative thinking, through avant-garde, futuristic and visionary superyacht concepts and projects is firmly established. We are pleased to have Alexander join us for a three-part exclusive to Superyacht Content featuring a few of his favourite concepts and design inspirations.
While working in Italy I regularly drove through Cremona, the home of violin maker Antonio Stradivari. It wasn’t until a fateful visit to a music museum in Venice though that I made the link between the instruments and superyacht design.
At the Museo della Musica di Venezia, there is a multitude of stringed instruments on display from harps to cellos, double basses, violins and violas produced throughout the ages. These simple yet elegant instrument forms produce stunning sounds. Violins are like little wooden ships that sail on through time and by any measure a violin is an object of beauty and an object of extravagant curves and lines.
They say choosing a violin is like falling in love. And its technical geometry has not really changed in over 450 years. While listening to Le Quattro Stagioni by Antonio Vivaldi you could almost see the workshop construction process of various stringed instruments including the selection, preparation and working of various materials. Inspiration flowed as we observed and read about instruments by Stradivarius, Amati and Guarneri, the Italian master violin makers who flourished in Cremona, Italy from 1549 to 1740. Look carefully and you will see that these instruments share similar geometry and construction principles with yacht design.
A Stradivarius, or Strad, is one of the violins, cellos, and other stringed instruments built by members of the Stradivari (Stradivarius) family, in particular by Antonio Stradivari, during the 17th and 18th centuries. According to their reputation, the quality of their sound has defied attempts to explain or equal it. The name “Stradivarius” is associated with excellence. To be called “the Stradivari” of any field is to be deemed the finest there is, much like building and owning a superyacht.
Antonio Stradivari’s instruments were made during his “golden period” from 1700 to 1725 and are considered his finest works. These beautifully hand crafted instruments combined the highest standards of craftsmanship, and machine shop abilities of the times, to give the player/owner a very intimate object, much like owning a superyacht. Using the finest materials of the day, in particular certain grades of selected and prepared woods, the main bodies of such instruments appear to almost ‘skin’ the instrument. The technical meets natural organic beauty – timeless beauty – with the tail, bridge, strings, ribs, belly, neck, scroll and bow tip. And the overall side profile of such instruments lends themselves very nicely to the profile of a superyacht.
Observing the construction of such stringed instruments we noticed the striking similarities to superyacht construction. Evident from the outset is the pure craftsmanship of the very highest quality. Box and modular construction of the instruments main belly and back (the hull, bulwarks and bulkheads of the yacht) and its marriage to the tailpiece, neck and scroll are very much like a superstructure. The bridge is of course the bridge. We also looked at the various types of bows used to play instruments and learned about three violin bow heads: transitional, swan-bill head and pike-head. These inspired the reverse bow design that flows up, into, through and over our concept. The tuning pegs on the neck of such instruments inspired anchor lockers, mooring guides and window graphics while the neck/hand area inspires a deep-set hull window for a sensational view of the water whilst on board. The f-holes (sound holes) provide atrium like glazing inspiration while a huge, main deck curved ‘glazed wall’ aft allows natural day light in.
Could yacht building learn anything from violin making in terms of evolution or revolution? Only time will tell.