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Nuvolari Lenard with Lexus LY 650 drives new change in yacht design

by Nuvolari Lenard 27 Nov 03:03 PST

Following two years of intense collaboration, Lexus has unveiled the remarkable Lexus LY 650 yacht to great fanfare. Built by US-based Marquis Yachts and with interior design from renowned Italian studio Nuvolari Lenard, the LY 650 is a globally-influenced luxury yacht that perfectly conveys the luxury qualities of Lexus.

Lexus customers know the brand for its luxury cars that achieve "perfection in construction" through amazing craftsmanship and innovation inside and out. Much like buying a Lexus car, the LY 650 is a yacht created for an extremely discerning clientele that is looking to acquire a supremely crafted luxury vessel. It was therefore crucial to find a team that could capably interpret the Lexus ethos into a maritime vision.

Working hand in hand with Nuvolari Lenard and marquis yachts

The development of the LY 650 represents a true collaboration between Lexus, its parent company Toyota Motor Corporation and renowned boat builder Marquis Yachts. Leveraging their decades of yacht building, Marquis Yachts led the way in realising this uniquely Lexus vision. Marquis Yachts, which designed the hull systems and managed assembly, partnered with Nuvolari Lenard to create the yacht's breath-taking interior that helps define this yacht's identity.

A meeting of minds from different sectors

"The realisation of the LY 650 has been an exciting and challenging process, unlike anything that we have experienced in our previous 27 years of yacht design," comments Carlo Nuvolari, Director and Senior Partner at Nuvolari Lenard. "With stakeholders based in three different continents and from three very distinct cultures, it was a true melting pot of influences and styles, a genuinely 'global' project."

Collaboration happened across the world, from Toyota City in Japan to the Nuvolari Lenard Design Studio in Venice to the Marquis manufacturing headquarters in Pulaski, Wisconsin. Beyond the evident cultural diversity of the companies, the different industrial approaches brought to the table by automotive giant Toyota contrasting the bespoke custom-build nature of the nautical industry, gave the project another interesting dimension, says Nuvolari, adding:

"It was a really fascinating process; due to the volume of production that Lexus is used to, its teams are very well organised and have a highly structured way of working. I think that they, too, found it rewarding to be able to collaborate with and relate to experts from a totally different industry. Car manufacturers like Toyota are extremely precise and detail oriented because they are focused on small spaces, such as the cabin of the car. They work on a millimetric scale while, as yacht designers, we work on a metric scale - so we had to find a way to meet in the middle."

Translating the Lexus design philosophy: to identify exactly how it feels to be in a Lexus car

Perhaps the greatest design challenge for Nuvolari Lenard was to identify exactly how it feels to be in a Lexus car - a luxurious but small space with high attention to detail in the immediate surroundings - and successfully interpret that in the much larger scale of a 65-foot yacht.

"It is not possible to exactly replicate the sensation of being in a car when you are on a yacht of this size, as it would only really involve the choices of furniture," says Dan Lenard, Director and Senior Partner at Nuvolari Lenard. "We needed to distil the essence and design philosophy of the Lexus brand, and then translate that into something on the scale of a home. It was certainly challenging but, thanks to the continuous involvement of Toyota's design teams over two years, in my opinion we have done this very effectively."

With the LY 650 interior designs agreed, the next task was to convey to Marquis what Nuvolari Lenard and Lexus wanted to create, while simultaneously understanding from the manufacturer the realities of what could be achieved in terms of space, materials and technical constraints.

Recreating the Lexus look on water

As a yacht intended to evoke the feeling of being in a car, one critical consideration was to ensure there were no sharp edges or straight lines throughout the interior. In a car, this is for safety reasons, to protect the driver and passengers from hurting themselves; but on the scale of a 65-foot yacht, the undertaking becomes complicated.

Nuvolari Lenard persevered in creating a realistic representation of car-like curves, and to great effect - perhaps best displayed in the master cabin on the lower deck. Here, the king-size bed features a floating, curved base and rounded headboard to convey the feeling of being in a cocoon, similar to the cockpit of a car. The desk, chaise lounge and doorway all echo the curves and rounded edges, resulting a in a calming atmosphere.

Beyond the shapes of the interior, the materials used on board would be crucial to effectively replicating the "Lexus experience", adds Nuvolari:

"We had to really push the envelope in terms of the materials we selected. Of course, they needed to be marine-grade and to meet regulatory standards, but they also had to echo that premium 'Lexus look'. Leather was naturally an important part of conveying the sensation of being in a car, and we chose the same high-quality cream leather both for inside and outside. We also designed leather features in places that you would not usually expect to find them on a boat, such as on door panels with elaborate stitching patterns. It was very effective."

To complement the chic cream leather, a combination of dark brown and taupe tones were used in the cabinetry, soft furnishings and flooring alongside polished stainless steel hardware. The woods selected include frisée eucalyptus and black lacquered walnut. The cream stone on the LY 650 is new marfil marble, while the dark brown stone is dark emperador marble. As well as American-sourced leather, eco leathers have been placed in a number of areas.

Windows are key for a car-like experience

With large windscreens and side windows, the ability to see the surroundings is important not only for safety reasons but also to enjoy the views. Consequently, the LY 650 features vast amounts of glazing both in the open-plan main deck salon and the service and accommodation deck below. From the oversized windscreen that arcs overhead at the helm to the minimised mullions and large windows to port and aft, the salon is flooded with light and a sense of openness.

But the real masterpiece in glazing on the LY 650 is in the master cabin, where the enormous windows with remarkable "floating" portholes give the impression of being in the owner's suite of a superyacht, rather than on the lower deck of a 65-foot yacht. The triumph in design is the result of hard work, vision and collaboration between Lexus, Nuvolari Lenard and Marquis.

A considered layout

The new LY 650 is somewhat based on the 42-foot Lexus Sport Yacht concept that was first shown in January 2017, but it has a unique and distinctive style of its own. From the exterior, its "sport" flybridge set to the aft of the profile ensures the LY 650 keeps its dynamic aesthetic. The aft deck features a large U-shaped settee and dining table with a close link to the interior space thanks to the full-height aft doors and the exterior aft bar to portside that reflects the countertop on the other side of the glass.

Nuvolari comments that this layout delivers the ideal visual extension of the interior space while providing an enjoyable spot to entertain.

The stairway from the salon to the lower deck has been consciously designed by Nuvolari Lenard as an open and light space, with highly polished metal and wood to elevate it from a simple passing place to an enjoyable part of the yacht. With such a premium look, it feels as though you are on a much larger yacht, while cleverly concealing functional items in the passageway, such as the washer and dryer.

Perhaps the part of a yacht that has the most apparent synergy with a car is the helm, and so it was especially important for Toyota to ensure that the helm of the LY 650 has a distinctively "Lexus" look. This was an interesting challenge for the Italian designers, comments Nuvolari, adding:

"Practically speaking, you drive a car sitting down while you drive a yacht both sitting and standing. It was naturally very important for Lexus to put a lot of effort into this space, and there were a lot of design discussions necessary to make it feel 'just right'. As an interesting premium touch for a yacht of this size, to give the helm a modern, high-tech look, the controls are integrated into a 'glass' bridge with stainless steel borders. It is very visually appealing and a design feature that we consider to be a great success.

"It has been a fascinating process working on the design of the LY 650 and we have relished in the challenges as well as the experiences with new partners and cultures. We are really proud of what we have achieved, and look forward to seeing its success in the market."

The first unit of the LY 650 was debuted at the 2019 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show and a number of further units are already in production.

Brief specifications

  • Overall length: 65'5" (19.96m)
  • Beam (width): 18'11" (5.76m)
  • Powered by twin 800hp IPS engines
  • Fuel Capacity: 1,060 gal (4,013L)
  • Water Capacity: 225 gal (852L)
  • Hold Tank Capacity: 170 gal (643L)
  • Staterooms: 3
  • Heads: 3
  • Sleeps: 6

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