A cutting-edge megayacht manufacturing group is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year by installing a 60 foot long yacht in the heart of Times Square. Designed by Stefano Righini and Francesco Guida for Azimut Yachts, the Azimut S6 model reflects the company’s strong commitment toward disruptive design and technological innovation in the yachting industry.

Azimut Yachts in Times Square during NYCxDesign Design Pavilion.

Downtown: Tell us about Azimut Yachts! What do you do and offer?

Giovanna Vitelli, VP of Azimut Benetti Group: Azimut Benetti Group is the world’s leading builder of motor yachts. Established in 1969 by my father, Paolo Vitelli, the Group is present in 70 countries, bringing together the successful brands Azimut Yachts and Benetti Yachts, each of which serves a different market segment. The Group offers a huge range of motor yachts, with more than 45 models in production, from the smallest Sport Cruiser in the Azimut Atlantis Collection at 34 feet to Benetti’s superyachts spanning more than 328 feet.

Downtown: A little birdie told us about a mega-installation you are planning in the heart of Times Square. What can visitors expect to see and through what dates?

GV: Visitors can expect to see an award-winning Azimut yacht on display in the Times Square Plaza from May 13-22, 2019. The event is in partnership with Design Pavilion during NYCxDESIGN, the city’s annual public celebration of design. For our 50th Anniversary celebration, Azimut Benetti Group partnered with Design Pavilion to emphasize the company’s strong commitment toward disruptive design and technological innovation in the yachting industry.

Downtown: How are you planning on installing it and where exactly will it be located?

GV: The yacht will be coming in two parts and will be assembled onsite overnight. It will be in the heart of Times Square at Times Square Plaza between 43rd & 44th Streets.

Downtown: Will the public be able to tour it or just gape at a 60-foot-long yacht sitting in the middle of Times Square?

GV: On-site activations will include public education activities in partnership with One Ocean Foundation and a public announcement of the Azimut Benetti Group’s Can You See/Sea The Future, a student design competition organized with Arts Thread. Representatives of Azimut Benetti Group will also take part in Design Pavilion’s Design Talk Series, appearing at the Impact Design Summit on May 13, 2019 to address innovations in sustainability. They will also host a discussion led by New York Magazine’s Wendy Goodman focused on art & design in luxury lifestyle on May 14, 2019. These programs are free and open to the public. Registration is required. For anyone interested, please register through Design Pavilion’s website here.

Downtown: What brought about this idea and how did you manage to put this plan into action

GV: The installation aligns with a broader brand initiative deeply connected to the DNA of the company, which has always been about breaking the “traditional” rules, introducing surprising elements to the nautical world and disrupting the accepted order of things.

A yacht outside its usual context, sitting in the iconic Times Square, is definitely not your normal situation. This alters your perception of what is “normal” and what is possible –this is what we want to convey. It’s a symbolic representation of how we work and of our innovative spirit in the design and technology which distinguish our projects.

We did a similar installation outside of the Triennale de Milano during Salone del Mobile in 2018, but for our 50th Anniversary we wanted to celebrate here in New York because the US Market has been crucial to our success.

Downtown: What are some of the coolest design elements your yachts sport?

GV: Today we are in the midst of a renewed dialogue between exterior and interior spaces where the latter are becoming more and more “permeable” and are opening up towards the external environment. In 2000, we were the first to open up and “free” our cabins, removing the traditional small portholes and replacing them with lovely large windows. This wasn’t an easy change to make because it meant completely reexamining the structural aspect of the boat, but it has changed the industry.  

Our style code has become completely different from others. It is about contemporary, forward-thinking architectural design. It’s more than opulence. It’s about many small but exquisite details, rather than vast quantities of different materials. It’s about elegance and discretion rather than showy displays.

Lastly, and most importantly, as the world’s largest megayacht manufacturer, Azimut Benetti Group feels a responsibility to consistently challenge the industry to improve. From hull shape evolution to innovative propulsion and broad use of carbon fiber, Azimut Benetti Group is investing in more efficient technology for a lower consumption product.