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Insight: Ferretti Group CCO Stefano de Vivo talks clever custom design and life at CRN

Design Business
Written by
Laura Nicholls

Having evolved from a rich Italian heritage, the Ferretti Group is a hub of passion and creativity. Part of the group is the shipyard CRN who, now feeling stronger than ever, are continuing to invest in their position as one of the top builders for custom superyachts. One of the ways they are doing this is by working alongside some of the industry’s most highly regarded superyacht designers such as Francesco Paszkowski, Nuvolari Lenard and Andrea Vallicelli. The results of these collaborations have sparked interest, and not only with SuperYacht Times. CRN shipyard Photo: CRNAs company Chief Operating Officer Stefano de Vivo explains inbetween “looking after the clients, the designers, the production and of everything else,” CRN’s design philosophy and new concepts have been developed as part of a one-of-a-kind key commercial strategy. With five projects still on the go at the Ancona shipyard, SuperYacht Times finds out more about this new surge of design from CRN. Ferretti Group CCO Stefano De VivoCan you share more details about the new projects that are still under construction?

We have two pretty big projects underway: we have the 79-metre CRN 135 that has been launched and is being prepared for delivery, and the 61.9-metre CRN 137 that is still in the shed and will be launched during the summer.

The welding and the hull and superstructure of a new 62-metre CRN 138 is being finished and she will be entering the shed during the month of June. She is a new project designed by Omega Architects by Frank Laupman and will be ongoing for the next year and a half. Delivery will be during 2021. 

CRN is nice and busy and we are keeping the perfect level of engagement: a 62-metre goes out, a 62-metre comes in! As the 79-metre is going out, last November we already signed a contract for a new 70-metre and a contract for a top secret 60-metre all-aluminium yacht in January. CRN 135 Mimtee yacht launchPhoto: CRNHas CRN received any interest in any other concepts? Is there any room at the shipyard to accommodate more?

We try to aim to deliver between 2500 and 3000GT per year. We don’t want to do more than that because we want to maintain the quality and stay attentive to both the client and the team. However, there is still space for another sale, either two 500GT or maybe one 50-metre 1000GT. 

CRN released three or four new projects developed with world-renowned designers last year. I can tell you that the 45-metre, 50-metre and 55-metre explorer yachts designed by Francesco Paszkowski received tremendous feedback and interest. This yacht fits perfectly in line with the history and DNA of CRN as we could say we were the first to build an explorer yacht: Mr Gianni Agnelli’s F100 in 1983. As the F100 was only 32.8-metres, a new 45 or 50-metre explorer would be perfect! 

This concept is a statement, and much more of a crossover as it looks like an explorer, but we have given more attention to what the modern owner of the explorer yacht wants. It has its toys, which are all concealed, but also has beauty. We are trying to make sure that we have linked the soul of an explorer yacht with the soul of a luxury yacht.CRN 70m project SHE by Vallicelli DesignPhoto: CRNHow has the CRN design has evolved? Have demands from clients changed?

More and more clients are asking for yachts that are capable of going further. The 70-metre CRN 139 that we are building right now has unique design features to accommodate this kind of travel. It’s got a lot of glass but all of the heating and air conditioning components are designed to be able to go to the strictest climates. 

There are so many different places in the world that you have to cater the design to it if the client wants to be able to go there. This brings new life to the CRN design. These kind of requests are coming in more and more, which is fantastic news for the yachting industry because it means clients are becoming more curious and are ready to visit different places which helps broaden our range of clientele and makes the future exciting.yacht CRN 135 Mimtee launched at CRN What has been the result of the design collaborations? Were there any challenges involved?

The main objective of these collaborations was to preserve CRN as the most important Italian shipyard that does full custom yachts. What I mean by full custom yachts it’s that, especially in reference to the last six or seven yachts CRN has launched, there is not one that looks the same as the other. The only two that look similar are two yachts owned by the same family.

It’s a lot harder to build yachts that do not look the same! The biggest challenge is that we live in a world where you push a button and you have a 3D rendering automatically, but it’s not necessarily that easy when you are talking to a customer and asking them to imagine what an end product developed especially for them might look like. This is why we picked the top designers to collaborate with us as it has helped the clients visualise their superyacht. This also gives us a stamp of credibility, quality and reliability that shows how high CRN has risen in the yachting industry as these are the top guys in the world working for us on a collaboration basis completely free! We just give them our platform so that they can have a design that is already engineered. Another benefit of working with them is that we also challenge one another with different new ideas and technologies that we can bring to our clients and the market. CRN Alfa Rosso yacht conceptHow do you decide on which designer to work with? Is there a strategy behind the collaborations? 

We chose Nuvolari Lenard as he has designed many CRN yachts since the beginning of the 2000s. Francesco Paszkowski because he is one of the best when it comes to designing a contemporary, very clever and beautiful looking explorer. We went for Lobanov who, despite his young age, has already designed some of the most beautiful and largest yachts on the market. He is very capable of making special designs. We picked Vallicelli because his classic design work is also part of our history, and he has worked a lot in our corner. Nuvolari has created a more future-past innovative design whereas collaborations with H2 Yacht Design and Nauta Design have created something special and different. 

Our strategy is very simple. We wanted to have a diverse and international group of designers. I think they are all so special and they all have tremendous experience and stories to tell - if we all had a dinner party together it would be a fantastic conversation to just sit down and listen to! CRN Alfa Rosso yacht series renderingPhoto: CRNHave there ever been any thoughts to bring in an in-house design team at CRN?

There are no internal designers like with our other brands, as we want to avoid having our designer community scared away by an internal design team. We start with a blank sheet and make sure the client’s talent, vision and inspiration are transformed into an initial design. Then, over time, it evolves as it is reworked and refined by our in-house teams of project managers, project architects, engineers, technical designers and specialist craftspeople who all work closely with the owner’s select team of architects and designers. 

What we hope is that the explorer vessel designed by Mr Paszkowski can become a very recognisable design for our company, maybe we can eventually make up to four units. Of course, each one will be a little bit different but that's probably the only design we see as something that could become a CRN recognisable product. Otherwise, we want to stay completely custom.CRN Shipyard in AnconaWhere do you think that CRN fits in in terms of its branding and its position in the market? Is there a lot of competition?

Unfortunately, there is a lot of competition. Especially because we have to remind the market what being a full custom yacht shipbuilder means. It’s very difficult to get the world to understand, evaluate and compare a custom manufacturer with some other manufacturers that tend to have recognisable products and designs 

This is why branding is important, but also the way we communicate our concept and ideas of a full-custom yacht. We feel stronger than we’ve ever been before because we have a very healthy group behind us with some very long-term thinking investors. We haven’t taken any profits at least since 2012 which means that we have been investing heavily in R&D, new products and new people. If we continue this is means that we should be in an increasingly higher position as a manufacturer of full-custom yachts. 

CRN fleetHow does CRN maintain its position in the market? Can you share any particular marketing strategies? 

Our marketing strategy always reflects the current market trends and ensures we have a project designed for that kind of clientele. The other thing we focus on is finding the sweet spot between the price to quality ratio. There is a certain richness to our vessels, so the allowances for interiors, systems and so on have to be acceptable. Clients cannot go lower than the package we provide as standard, which makes clients a lot less nervous about not knowing what they’re getting. Our ‘basic offer’ is very well accustomed to all of the needs of a client and its crew, on top of which you can add richness, by which I mean the options to have whatever you like! 

We also constantly organise events and meetings on a regular basis with our stakeholders to really show them what is in construction and the diversity of our projects. The other thing we focus on is the Ancona shipyard. If you visit you will see how well we have invested in the premises, especially building facilities. That is the most important thing as there is no better marketing than having very tidy and well-organised shipyard with the latest technology to build the yachts that our owners dream and desire. 

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