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Insight: Breaking into design with Alberto Mancini

Written by
Charl van Rooy

There is an undeniably cool factor about Alberto Mancini that is instantly apparent as I meet the Italian designer for the first time. It could be the tropical Miami backdrop where our meeting takes place, or perhaps his smooth Italian charm as he orders a drink from the waiter. Whatever it is, Alberto has my attention. I can easily imagine it is this humble charisma that has formed the basis of his success at such a young age.

There is space for everybody in this industry and if you work hard you will always be given the chance to get involved in a project,” he answers as I ask him about his past. I met with Mancini to find out what it is like to start from scratch as a designer who has, under his own brand, only recently become a more common name on the global stage. He might have his own design brand today, but reaching this level wasn’t easy and Alberto knows better than most that dedication always wins the match.

Mancini’s yachting career, much like many other designers in the business, was born after starting out in an entirely different field of design. For some, it’s product design or perhaps residential design, but studying in Turin, Italy, drawing cars was where it all started for him. “My real aim was always to become a car designer. After I graduated, I was given the opportunity to join a young design team in Germany. I am still thankful today of what I learned in Turin.” It soon becomes clear that it is Mancini’s attitude towards constantly learning and improving himself through his experiences with other designers that have played a big role in his fast track to reaching the top.

But all the while he was living out his dream of creating cars, Mancini’s heritage was calling, and a lingering desire to enter the field of yacht design became stronger by the day. “I am from Trieste and the maritime culture is deeply rooted in all communities along the Adriatic Sea. I used to go sailing with my father when I was younger and the ocean and the life it supports has always been a passion of mine.

As chance would have it, an opportunity came along that would provide Alberto with the perfect opportunity to get his feet wet. “I first met Officina Italiana Design as they were setting up their company and they were searching for a junior designer to join them at the time. The idea of sketching a Rolls Royce or a Spyder without wheels was quite exciting. It was when I moved to Milan to join these yacht designers when I realised that once you can design a car, in all perspectives and proportionally correct, then you can design any industrial product in the world that has to do with aesthetics.

This period gave Mancini great perspective and introduced him to a whole new world of design. “It turned out to be a very good learning experience for me.” But after a few years in Milan, Mancini was ready for a new challenge and his thirst to keep developing his skills lead him to explore even greater avenues. “I was never satisfied with staying in a design studio. I was, and still am, very hungry to learn more so I moved to England to improve my English and it was also then when I joined Ken Freivokh Design. When I move back to Italy, Nuvolari Lenard gave me an opportunity to be involved in some of their exciting projects as well. This is a very short version of a lot of work and educating experiences, but after all of that I felt that I was ready to start my own design brand name.

And so AM Yacht Design was born. Now working under his own brand, Mancini soon found a style that allowed him to incorporate both his love for automobiles and the experience he has gained in the yachting world to create a sporty and well-proportioned style that is undeniably AM Yacht Design. “My approach towards any project today is still very much the same as I did when designing cars. Designing a sports boat is not that different from the design you will find in the automotive world. Different studios are inspired by different subjects, be it art, nature, architecture. For us at AM Yacht Design it has always been cars and it is where we draw a lot of our inspiration from.

Sticking to this particular style has generated big interest in the design brand from several clients, and after over a decade of hard work by Mancini and his team, the studio today has an impressive list of projects to boast about involving the likes of Baglietto, Fairline Yachts, Dominator, and Otam. But when asked about his most rewarding project to date, Mancini singles out the Mangusta Oceano 42 that AM Yacht Design created for Overmarine. “This project has been a great opportunity for me and my studio to show our skills. It was fantastic to work together with a young entrepreneurial owner who allowed us a lot of design freedom during the process. In fact, the initial exterior and interior renderings which I proposed were immediately appreciated by both the owner and shipyard, so we were on the same wavelength from the start already, which helps a lot.

It is projects like these that keep driving Mancini to improve and what the future will hold for AM Yacht Design and indeed the entire design business is a topic he keenly talks about. “In the near future, perhaps 10 years from now, it is perhaps not too crazy to think that my office will be filled with designers with headgear on where they can work in a 3D world. The entire field of design is heading in that direction.” But being the down-to-earth person that he is, Mancini keeps himself in check by always drawing on the skills he learned as a kid copy-sketching cars from the latest auto magazines. “I feel there will always be this clash between the classic, ‘old school’ way of design and working with new technology, and the people who will succeed are the ones who manage to find the right balance between the two.

Today Mancini values his team as much as he did his teachers that were apart of his various stages in the design world and understands to help keep that balance, sometimes all he needs are a fresh pair of eyes around him. “I feel our generation has a lot to offer the industry and I, therefore, feel it's important to keep a close connection with younger designers. Not only that, but getting an international group of people together is just as useful as we are dealing with several different cultures in the yachting business, and having someone who can better understand the end client’s needs based on that, is very valuable. At the end of the day, it is not the talent of one person but rather the whole team. If the team works well together, you can create almost anything.

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This article was published in the latest edition of the SuperYacht Times newspaper. Subscribe now to receive your copy straight to your door and never miss another issue.

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