Sailing by sea or living on the sea? The debut of Overblue, the crossover

Overblue 44

Among the innovations at the Boat Show of Cannes and Genoa it couldn’t go unnoticed a “strange” boat, which could be similar to a house boat at a cursory look.

Actually, at a second look even a layman realized that Overblue it’s not a simple houseboat but that have behind a very innovative concept and a lot of design work.

We were lucky enough to meet the designer of Overblue, the architect Stefano Nolletti, and ask him some questions.

Nolletti is an architect who mainly deals with product and interior design for several industrial firms and he also worked extensively in the automotive field, in particular for Stile Bertone.

Here’s what he told us.


Let’s talk about Overblue, an innovative project for the marine sector, yet his background it’s about a sector quite different as the automotive. Do you believe that these two experiences have had some points of contact?
I would say mostly a real “transfer” of knowledge.

When the purchaser called me to tell me about his idea, it was immediately clear that we would be gone outside the box and the not coming from the marine field rather than a lack it has been manifested as an opportunity: customs prevent us from finding innovative solutions, whereas creativity requires proceeding sideway, i.e. by analogy, by unlikely comparisons, full of new perspectives.

Against this background many of the stylistic solutions adopted to Overblue wink at the automotive field.

Overblue represents in a certain sense a new typology of boat.
Can you tell us how it is originated and how this project is been developed?
The project was originated from the desire of Raffaele Grotti, a shipowner and owner of a company in Ravenna already in the marine sector, as a solution to the problems (sometimes unexpressed) that often make the yachtsman’s experience not fulfilling.

Not by chance it is said that the most beautiful day in the life of an owner is the purchase of a boat and that the second most important day is the one in which he managed to sell it.
Irony apart, against this background we decided to put the final user at the centre of the project, according to the philosophy of the Experience Design.

The result, achieved after two years of research and a business trip to the US to investigate the type of houseboat uncommon here, is effectively a “crossover”, a boat with the comfort of a ‘houseboat’ and the performance of a small yacht.


About the “performance”, the formula of power catamaran with contained engine type and large space isn’t new in the market. I’m referring to the Maryland series of Fountaine Pajot of the 90’s or at the most recent Highland and Summerland.
Normally, however, the marine component prevails over the “living spaces”, with Overblue we can say that the weight of the two components is overturned.
How do you reconcile this with the navigability in the sea and the ease of maneuver?

In Overblue I don’t believe that this was a simple reversal of perspectives, which would probably take us to draw another houseboat as many others.

The real purpose was to find the right balance between the two components, favouring definitely the habitability but also giving a lot of importance to the navigability, as evidenced by the technical choice of build a multihull, inherently more stable than a mono hull.

Or the decision to maintain a very low barycentre by locating all the heavier technical installations inside the hull or by using the carbon to lighten the structure of the hard-top.

In a nutshell strategies have been put in place both during the design and construction phase, which have enabled us to reconcile the two aspects into one product.

What was the public reaction at the boat show of Cannes and Genoa or more exactly what type of public with more interest did they bring close?
The public reaction went beyond all expectation and very gratifying.

Certainly the innovation of the concept has played a key role, the strong aesthetic impact of the exteriors and the sensation of space of the interior and of the fly.

On many occasion we were literally thanked for having shown something so new, something that was not there.

The type of audience was rather heterogeneous, from the professional to the family with children, through entrepreneurs who have seen in the configurability of the Overblue spaces also new business opportunities (eg using the boat for business meetings).


But I understand that design has played a central role in this project. On the other hand, looking at the forms that characterize Overblue, it is unthinkable that it is not.
Can you explain the central points that have led to the definition of a solution so far from what we usually see today in our coasts?
The design of Overblue rotates around some strong constrains imposed by the clients, the first is a straight section long about 9 metres with a beam of 4.2 metres which is also the maximum beam of the boat.
It is therefore to draw in the remaining 4 and half metres a prow and stern which hide the “box” effect and give to Overblue an own aesthetic connotation.

The side has been enriched by 3D dynamic elements such as two big abutments in the stern, the drooping arches in the bow and the silver tab under the side windows.

One aspect that I would like to underline is this: the word “restriction” has often a negative meaning (to be linked) while rather in the design it is a harbinger of innovative solutions.

In this case the bow of Overblue represents exactly this evolutionary process.

“Abandoned” the bow as we all know it, it was possible to realize a small balcony for the exclusive use of the cabin, a small place which, however, in terms of comfort and wellness on board becomes a real non-technological innovation.

This project approach has characterized the entire development of the boat and it is presented again also in the construction method: given the linearity of the central part of the boat, it was decided to build it (and by extension the same is been applied to the appendices of prow and stern) with modular molds, which allows a reduction of costs over the entire range of models and the consequent competitiveness in terms of the final price.

Little while ago you mentioned the philosophy of Experience Design: coming aboard on the Overblue 44 one is struck by wide spaces and the ambient lighting, spaces are well used and you don’t have that sensation of “compression” typical of boats of this size. The fly as well is presented as a wide terrace on the sea, a concept a bit different from what we already know.
is presented as a “new way of life” to quote his own claim, a new way of living on the sea. Many boats today are used as a second home, but they don’t offer the same level of wellness in terms of space and “user experience”.

For Overblue we have decided and supported the idea that each element could be conceived and designed to allow to live aboard as well as at home.
Each functional element, from the kitchen to the bathroom, the living room to the bedroom, is designed and dimensioned according to the standards of usual housing.

The same principle was used for the fly, thanks to the large size, it becomes a large terrace where eating, cooking, sunbathing or chatting, all in complete privacy.

To conclude, as a designer of Overblue what are the next planned activities?
Currently, we are involved in the project to finish the medium model of the range Overblue 54, whose layout has not been fixed at 100% and that basically will be an “increased” version of the 44.

In parallel we are drawing the externals of Overblue 64, which instead will introduce a substantial innovation in comparison with its “younger brothers”: the fly will be partially covered for the living area, which will be directly connected to the external space through large windows openable on all sides.

Overblue 44

Translated by Federica Izzo

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