by Feadship with Cristina Gherardi Design and De Voogt Naval Architects

As opalescent as mother-of-pearl and as winding as a shell, Savannah is perfectly in symbiosis with nature thanks to the skill of Cristina Gherardi Design and De Voogt Naval Architects. Her propulsion system makes her truly one of a kind and she is Feadship’s first hybrid vessel.

From the very first moment of visual impact, Savannah enchants with her faint pearlescent hue, her soaring lines unburdened with aggression, and a flawless balance of volume and shape that glides over the sea elegantly and almost ethereally. The uncompromising shape of her vertical prow is softened as the yacht’s lines gradually lengthen towards the stern to skim the water, as well as by the dark bands of windows that run seamlessly from the bridge wheelhouse to the aft deck, and on the owner’s deck to a huge forward space that is clear and unencumbered like the flush deck of a sailing boat. The result is a minimalist flavour tempered by refined management of colour, light and space, by curving lines that draw inspiration from the fluidity of the sea, and by an overarching sense of harmony and rational logistics. This is all possible thanks to an architectural concept rarely encountered on a ship, where American-style functionalism is joined with the French art de vivre and typically Italian taste in design. It provides a leitmotif visible from the layout onwards, one that astonishes without shocking and beguiles without ensnaring, incorporating technical and nautical traits into the yacht that are unique on the world super yacht scene.

Savannah has a mix of exclusive features that make her perfect for glamorous holidays in famous bays and adventures on long journeys alike. In her first year, she set course through the seas of Norway, the Atlantic and, after sailing down the Suez Canal, the Indian Ocean. The spectacular vistas this cruise afforded could be enjoyed in full through the windows running all the way around the circular salons. Her shared spaces express a new perception of comfort, with interiors that become exteriors seamlessly, encircled by huge, storm-proof sliding glass windows in a design that leaves behind the traditional sequence of salon, dining area and bar replicated on every deck. The light, metallic grey/green of her exteriors is sea foam green, and Savannah is the first Feadship super yacht to be almost entirely painted in this metallic shade. To achieve this, the shipyard developed a special spray technique to make the colouring perfect. The external staircases in jet black with teak-clad steps are similarly unusual. Feadship De Voogt has engineered the hull, however the profile, all the exterior details, the colors of the hull, the glass façade, and whatever is visible over the water line, has been conceived, by Cristina Gherardi Design. Combined with the engines and propulsion system, the hull yields a 30% reduction in consumption, a cruising speed of 14 knots and a top speed of 17 knots. The yacht’s naval platform is equally distinctive and technologically advanced. The details and finishes of the yacht’s interiors are unique, with wood as the dominant material for the floor – natural teak on the decks and dark rosewood slats inside – while the lighting offers ten different colours and uses unprecedented techniques, much like the technical characteristics and thickness of the glass running along the hull. The hull itself is in steel while the superstructure is aluminium, and the yacht affords accommodation for up to 12 guests in six cabins and 26 crew, who enjoy unprecedented facilities and accommodation of their own. Savannah was built in 2015 at Feadship’s Aalsmeer yard in the Netherlands, and won more awards than any other super yacht in 2016. She marks a milestone among the masterpieces by Dutch shipyard Feadship which, as director Henk de Vries says, “has shown that it is never afraid to venture into uncharted waters”. It’s an adventure that de Vries has shared with the owner, and the two men have been entirely in tune with each other since the project began.

A tour of the yacht

With a huge beach club area opening out to skim the water, the lower deck is home to the Nemo Lounge, an unusual interior space that offers panoramic, engrossing underwater views of the natural environment through a distinctive window in the side of the yacht and another in the side of the swimming pool.

It’s a spectacle that is multiplied on the metallic coloured surfaces and steel of the furnishings, and the show continues when the lounge becomes a cinema. Behind it, there is an officer’s cabin, followed by an engine room that is unusually smaller than the garage, but flawless and functional as an operational space, and featuring a spacious control room. Next is the garage, housing two large tenders, water toys and other vessels of various sizes, and opening out with a long hatch to the side. We then move on to the galley and the elegant crew accommodation which is in harmony with the rest of the yacht, featuring a crew mess, lounge and ten cabins each housing two crew members, including two suites, laid out along a corridor with fine art on the walls. On the main deck, the main entrance is to the side, while to aft a large external deck extends all the way around the huge circular lounge, which is visually and physically open towards the pool on one side, among reflective walls and colours redolent of the sea. On the other side, the serene atmosphere continues into the sitting room and towards the guest area, among curved wall lines and steel details. These lines reach a crescendo in the lobby’s spiral staircase, which extends upwards in a stunning interplay of line, echoed by the slats in the flooring and accompanied on its journey upwards by bands of light in the succession of panels in the wall. The same applies in other parts of the yacht, where unenclosed surfaces are separated from one another and lit internally, with walls and ceilings a feather’s breadth apart without joining tightly together, leaving space and creating the impression of floating. The guest area features four guest rooms and one full-beam VIP suite with a terrace that can be opened onto the sea, all dominated by round or curved elements, opalescence and pearl-grey tones. Another officer’s cabin is located forward, separated from the rest of the deck, while the prow holds a secret room – a small, comfortable space from which to watch as the yacht cuts through the waves, without having to lean out over the void with arms wide like in Titanic. The owner’s deck is not the usual world apart, but instead echoes the base layout and is completely surrounded by the external deck. Forward, this becomes a space free of any encumbrance, as if to create room for sails, the wings of dreams and freedom. The only covered dining area is here, in a round space that can be opened onto the aft deck in the same way as on the main deck, but that is also connected to the owner’s lounge and further on to the owner’s suite, beige leather, in the corridors, onyx for the bathroom, and all the rest in light bronze metallic finishing and the essential large slats of the parquet floor. It is a suite worthy of an Ian Fleming character, with a bookcase, bathroom and dressing room connected to an incredible stateroom. The bed stands in the centre, below a vast skylight facing the heavens, with a luminous panel behind it and windows onto the sea all the way around its circular walls. More than half of the bridge deck is dedicated to physical and wellbeing activities for the owner and guests, with a gym that can be fully opened onto the external deck to aft and is connected inside to the spa and wellness space among discreet gleams and light pearlescent tones. Further forward, the bridge, ship’s office and captain’s accommodation maintain the highest levels of style. The sun deck is a single open space with a sunbathing area, a U-shaped sofa around a long coffee table that can be turned into a dining table, a bar, and a Jacuzzi. Outside on the yacht, the only resolutely straight lines can be found in the sunbeds, the sunpads and the 9-metre pool on the main deck.

A conversation with the architect

The owner gave us wings,” says Cristina Gherardi Benardeau, the Italian architect and founder of Paris-based designers Cristina Gherardi Design who developed the interiors and, together with the Feadship team, the exteriors of the yacht. “He is a highly cultivated person with very active and dynamic lifestyle, and he was very clear about the direction to be taken but left us free to develop it. This confidence in our abilities allowed us to explore new paths and revolutionise yachting industry stereotypes.” Cristina Gherardi has worked for Kenzo, Armani and Dior, and while she lives in Paris now she has previously lived in New York. She has drawn a sense of functionality from the USA, taste and design from Italy and exclusivity and luxury from France. In the nautical field, Savannah is her second yacht, just as it is for the owner, who came to her once again this time.

In Amsterdam Henk de Vries received us in person,” she explains, “and the two of them were immediately on the same wavelength”.

Stores, megastores, private homes and real estate for luxury brands – in your career you move between a private concept and a shared one. Is it fair to say both can be found on Savannah and indeed on every yacht? “Although she has private spaces, Savannah is fluid, without divisions apart from practical safety ones, and the public and private spaces are very open and continuous. The crew is separate and has their own areas, which we approached with the same taste and sensibility as the other areas, so as not to create a divide between the guests and crew. There is certainly a difference in terms of services, but it is less apparent than on other yachts. I would say that the commonality here is almost a moral matter. The yacht reflects the owner’s personality, which in this case means it is sporty with a great deal of respect for people, a passion for water and the sea, but also designed to welcome friends.” How did this project originate? “We are architects, so the quality of the space and volume is fundamental. Here, it all starts with the desire to be in contact with the water and experience a physical relationship with the outdoor environment. As the sea is a liquid element, this translates into fluidity between covered and open spaces, both horizontally and vertically in the yacht’s interiors. The exterior is in a very light metallic grey-green, because we wanted it to be a little ethereal and inspired by the marine environment that we find in the interiors. The sea is echoed in the materials, textures and colours, with the colours of the metallic artwork changing as the sky and water change.” Why the choice of a sculptural interior spiral staircase? “It is the usage of the curves in general for all the partitions that allowed us fo soften up the tecnical inclusions, not the staircase in particular. The circular shape of the stairs was choosen for its sculptural effect, and it goes with the overall philosphy of the layout, all based on curved lines.” Why the choice of large wood and marble slats for the floor? “The wood was specifically chosen by the owner and maintaining continuity with the slats laid out in a herringbone design was very complicated from a technical point of view. Marble was only used in wet areas and vein-cut to create a sense of serenity, calling to mind sand and waves much as the silvery leather in the guest cabins echoes the skin of fish.” A little like the “Maggiolini” style convex units, where I’m not sure – are they yours or from the Fendi collection? “No. They were developed for Savannah and made for us by a French glass-maker in steel and curved gilded glass. Vintage and contemporary pieces alternate with ones designed by us, as when we couldn’t find something suitable for the project we designed it ourselves, from the smallest object to the reflective materials. My favourite room is the owner’s, which is inspired by the cinema and everything is treated with liquid metal. We wanted a James Bond-style atmosphere that was playful and completely different from anything you would find in an apartment or a house in London, New York or St. Moritz. The first element in creating all this is the architecture, with the materials arising almost as a result. The light is natural, with artificial light, is always extremely important, emitted indirectly. There is a lighting design, a very sophisticated one, developed in collaboration with the Italian firm Metis Lighting and it has being thought to enhance and exalt the architecture as well as create an atmosphere, adapted to the different moments and moods: day or night, party or relax.” You have worked with Jacques Grange, Peter Marino and Giorgio Armani, who are all quite different. Who do you feel closest to? “From Mr. Grange I learnt the French art de vivre and chic style, from Mr. Marino the ability to bring great artists into residential projects, but Mr.Armani is the closest to me in terms of aesthetics. I aspire to that sophisticated simplicity.” Savannah also houses artistic masterpieces? “Boats like this one always have paintings and sculptures, and like many at his level, the owner is a collector, someone who focuses fully on this. In the main salon there is the “Sushi buffet” from Fernando and Humberto Campana as well the alluminium cast round table from Sebastian Brajkovic. However, we like to include some more affordable pieces as well, such as a Cassina small table, and this is something I learnt from Jaques Grange. Several pieces of art where selected by the owner’s art advisor, Susan Almrud. The object needs to have a role in the design, it shouldn’t be admired for its value but for its aesthetic qualities, intelligence and materials. The oval table in the dining room is in straw marquetry, strands of straw glued together in a fan shape, and can be lengthened by 1.40 metres with an arrangement that allows the top’s pattern to be maintained as per the design. Vibration of the straw creates an extraordinary effect in a technique that dates back to the 18th century, and which came back into fashion for furniture in 1930.”

Who had the idea for the Nemo Lounge?

The central propulsion system freed up space on the side and we liked the idea of seeing the swimming pool and the sea from inside the yacht below the water’s surface. It has a playful feel with a hint of the sensual, with swimmers on one side and fish on the other, and without being visible to the people in the pool. It’s a space that creates new sensations, a bit like the secret room, where it feels as though you’re breaking the waves like in a sailing boat.”

Is the fixed furniture yours as well?

Yes, all the beds, the side bed tables, the chest of drawers of the guest and master bedroom, all the sofas in all salons, the decks consol, the sundeck bar, were designed by us, and either manufactured by the shipyard or by our subcontractors. They are fixed but looks freestanding. There are naturally also pieces such as the Caccia Dominioni coffee table in the main salon, with others by Campana brothers made from the most unimaginable materials, two beautiful antique lamps from the Brazilian Embassy and the chair near the fireplace from a savings bank that someone thought was by Gio Ponti.” A skillfully managed mix of the sacred and profane, in short.

Technical features in summary

Savannah uses one Wärtsilä medium-speed main engine instead of two diesel engines with a higher rpm, with a single central transmission shaft and three gensets connected to a series of batteries. The propulsion system, engineered by Feadship, couples azipods with a variable pitch traditional propeller to enable greater fuel savings than the best vessels launched by the shipyard to date.

A similar system has been used on passenger vessels in Japan and in industrial navigation – applied to a super yacht, it involved an exceptional level of cooperation with Wärtsilä and the other equipment manufacturers. It is joined by an unusual high-performance hull designed by Feadship De Voogt Naval Architects and a highly advanced naval platform inspired by Breathe, a yacht built by the shipyard in 2010. The lithium ion batteries are similarly innovative, affording no less than one million watts. These were suggested by the owner, and offer truly outstanding speed, giving the generators sufficient charge for any speed and tranquil cruising at low speeds without using the engines. Equally important is the unusually powerful stern thruster. The result of this mix is high efficiency, reduced vibration and noise, greater environmental compatibility and excellent manoeuvrability in port.

Donatella Zucca

Photos by courtesy of Feadship



Awards & Nominations 2016


ShowBoats Design Awards:

Interior Design Award – Motor Yacht over 500GT – Winner

Naval Architecture Award – Displacement Motor Yacht – Finalist

Holistic Design Award – Winner

Exterior Design & Styling Award – Motor Yacht over 500GT – Winner


World Superyacht Awards:

Displacement Motor Yachts 1,300GT – 2,999GT – Winner

Motor Yacht of the Year – Winner


International Superyacht Society Awards – Best Power 65+m – Winner

SAVANNAH technical specifications

Type’Breathe’ hybrid propulsion motoryacht, steel hull with vertical bow and aluminium superstructure
LOA83.50 m / 273’11” ft
BOA12.20 m / 40’ ft
Draught (loaded) 3.85 m / 12’8” ft
Fuel capacity 170,000 litres / 44,909 US gallons
Fresh water capacity40,000 litres / 10,567 US gallons
Main engines 1 x Wärtsilä 9L20 4stroke@1800 kW @1000 rpm
Generators1 x Caterpillar C32 & 2 x Caterpillar C18
BatteriesCorvus 1000 kWh Li-ion
AccommodationOwner: Two in owner’s stateroom
Guests: Ten guests in four large guest rooms, one VIP stateroom
Crew: 22 / 26 crew eight crew cabins, one captain’s cabin, one engineer’s cabin, two officers’ cabins
Water sports 2 x 9.00 m tenders, 1 x 15’ tender, wave runners, etc.
Naval Architect Feadship De Voogt Naval Architects
Exterior styling Cristina Gherardi Design / Feadship De Voogt Naval Architects
Interior design Cristina Gherardi Design
Shipyard Feadship
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