When he speaks, you hear the typical hard accent of a person who lived in Bergamo without mistake or doubt, an influence absorbed by birth and residence. It is important, however, to after his memories, to realize that for Marino Alfani, the Po Valley has represented only one of the banks on which his passions grew. The other is the southern shore of the life of this young and well-established designer, that line of coastline along the Gulf of Naples, the birthplace of Marino’s parents and the theater of his childhood and adolescent scenes.
“I came here to spend all my holidays,” the architect tells us, overlooking the terrace of the Circolo Canottieri Napoli where Rio Yachts ship-yard invited us to test the new Spider 40 whose blanket and interior carry the signature of Alfani. “My days were full of sea, boat, and islands”. Above all Procida island, the most popular, the most true, his favorite. Sea, boats and passion for drawing. Three words, a mixture that has become a profession, lived with rigor and preparation, to the point of being, at 35 years old, a prestigious signature of Italian design, especially under the projects of important Italian and foreign ship-yards.
Married, father of three children and guardian of three dogs, seven turtles and three fishes, Marino Alfani shows a quality that balances the strength with which he exposes his concepts, and his sympathy, a way of “being at hand” which does not impoverish the authority of the professional, but humanizes it.
In addition, while chatting with us, his look goes back several times on the boat we are going to try, the Spider 40 of Rio Yachts.
This is a very classical boat, a pure open.
It is the classic boat I saw surfing in these waters when I was a child, a typically Mediterranean boat, livable and manageable with simplicity.
So the source of inspiration are the great classics of the past?
I am convinced that without the memory of the past there is no future. In this case, I wanted to emphasize a concept: I love little designed, simple boats, in contrast to the fashion which inspire car design. A car has a short life cycle of 3-4 years, a boat lasts a lot longer, its lines must be simple, clean and do not tire over time. So I was inspired by a key concept in my work, namely to avoid elite boat projects. If I want to exemplify, I can say that I love boats comparable to small penthouses but with large terraces.
What is the main character of a designer?
Knowing how to accompany customers in their dreams, in their game.
What does it mean concretely?
It means not to make the big star that imposes. Especially in boating, the customer has a degree of confidence in the designer, but often has a lot of experience as well. A good designer listens, and finds a point of balance, a mediation to accomplish something beautiful and functional.
You are an interior designer not only for boats but also for homes, shops, hotels. Is there a common denominator, from the point of view of design, between such diverse domains?
No, there is no common denominator. The boats are thought in millimeters and the houses, the hotels in centimeters. As far as I am concerned, I approach the project in two methods. The first is listening; the second is the care of detail that does not simply mean care for the little things. The detail is not a fringe. It is creating something, a fitting, an insert, an embellishment that has a function. The detail must have a strong character and must have a sense, its use.
Do you think there will be something that will characterize the nautical design of the coming years?
Up to now, it has been drawn of everything, and often chasing the fashion is what we were doing. I believe that true research in design in general and not just in the nautical field, is harmony, return to the beaty, and above all, the absence of vulgarity. Today we live in a vulgar society, where the value of money does not have a relative measure, does not bring with it other values as in the past, but often dominates relationships. I have three children, and I know the importance and the need to earn, but also the need for balance, harmony that has disappeared.
The last compulsory question about future projects. What is boiling in your pot?
I am following a few new projects. A 34-meter yacht in Brazil, the 38-foot America for Shipyards, a 50-foot and 60-foot Rio Yachts. Then….
Then I am starting a production of hops for the breweries in a piece of land where I will also raise goats and grow berries. I do it for my children, to show them another face of this existence, but also for me. I am doing well, and you know, even going to talk of hops with Coldiretti , I feel comfortable, it gives me serenity!