It’s a bird… it’s a plane… it’s a superyacht? When I first saw photographs of this concept yacht, I thought it was a joke. After much research and an intriguing conversation with the man behind the creative genius (or madness) that is Avanguardia, it turns out it’s anything but.

The brainchild of Italian designer Pierpaolo Lazzarini, Avanguardia has been five years in the making. What started as a fantasy dreamed up by a man fascinated with pushing the boundaries of vehicle design has become a project with real-life potential – and one which Lazzarini hopes will get snapped up by one brave shipyard.

“The idea is to take inspiration from nature,” says Pierpaolo Lazzarini. “We believe that nature already gives us the necessary design shapes to conceive new designs, so we based it on the swan – which is actually also our logo – because we believe it’s one of the most elegant animals in the way it moves, in the way it eats, and everything.”

The boat’s obvious USP is its neck which, when in neutral, perches like a swan bobbing on the waves, and extends flat onto the water where the “head” detaches and transforms into a tender.

While it’s an interesting concept, realising the design was far from easy. “In five years, we tried many times to obtain the final shape. We tried about six different versions,” says Lazzarini. “Before, we had a real crane for the neck, which was working properly but it was not so nice in terms of design. The difficulty was to make it look cool and not like crane.”

The whole thing seems bonkers but the designer insists that it’s possible to build if a shipyard is brave enough to take on the challenge. Interested parties should bear in mind, however, that while the base of the boat is tried and tested, it will likely take the skill of a shipyard to bring the neck to life.

“It’s a concept and everything works but obviously in reality if somebody is going to develop this, they will probably change the design of the neck a bit because it’s so stylish but maybe not functional in the way it needs to be,” says Lazzarini.

In Lazzarini’s earliest edition, the head was a detachable aircraft. “The inspiration at the beginning was to have a detachable head that flies instead of going in the water, but we had to place a drone on the top and the landing was quite complicated,” he says. “Even though it’s a concept, we like to make things that really work and are not just animated cartoons, so we decided to replace it with a boat.”

The first version with the tender used system whereby the boat was able to slide into the water, but Lazzarini didn’t want the headless neck sticking up and ruining the overall silhouette, so after some prototype designing, the studio created the neck as you see it now.

Looking at the body of the yacht, other highlights include its in-built car garage, helipad and storage facility for two “jet capsule” tenders. These tenders are actually real-life builds. In fact, their design won Lazzarini an award at a major design competition in 2010 – the turning point which consequently inspired the former car part designer to open his own design studio in 2012.

The studio has since developed a range of capsules and water vehicles for Jet Capsule, a company which Lazzarini also owns, as well as concept yachts and cars – including those of the flying variety.

The big question: has Lazzarini received any interest from shipyards? The short answer – yes.

“After some articles around the neck of Avanguardia, we started getting contact from some shipyards from Italy and Germany – one is interested because they already had an engagement from their client for whom they’ve build 100m yachts. They were asking for information about the crane,” says Lazzarini.

“The yacht builder is always looking for a new challenge. In the nautical world, if somebody says ‘no, this is too difficult’, this is something that makes the yacht builder happy – to create something that nobody has before them.”

Avanguardia is the first of six aquatic animal-shaped concept yachts which Rome-based Lazzarini Studio will unveil over the coming months. The first of the series will be released before Christmas.

Whether you like Avanguardia or not, one thing is for sure – this won’t be the last you’ll be hearing from Lazzarini.



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