Think of an idyllic yachting experience and the image most likely to spring to mind is one replete with nautical stripes and shades of breezy blues. Not so for Kirk Lazarus, founder of Molori Private Retreats and Molori Design, whose yacht Told U So is145 feet of bold prints, jazzy furnishings and vintage finds.
Lazarus, formerly an energy trader, has learnt from his years of being disappointed by charter experiences and has created his own version of pleasure boating. He was keen to translate his Molori retreats' philosophy from land to water - ‘Molori' means ‘to dream' in the southern African language of Setswana. And so the self-confessed perfectionist inducted himself into the business of boat design by spending three weeks at sea.
"I kept thinking about how my boat would be different.I wanted a bigger master suite, a larger bathroom, a walk-in wardrobe - I did not need another dining room." He disembarked with a head full of ideas and a new captain, Fabio Mistri, whose profound knowledge of Benetti boats proved indispensable to Lazarus. "Fabio was instrumental. I had the idea of floor-to-ceiling windows in the saloon, but Fabio said that while they would be nice when the sea was calm, when the yacht was rolling, guests would feel sick."
Lazarus engaged his crew on several structural elements, but where he allows himself full credit is in the yacht's interior design. The main saloon has been subtly partitioned into three areas, with a bar running the length of the aft,a sumptuous living room and a cosy television area complete with real fire towards the fore. Clever colour scheming both reinforces the autonomy of each section and ensures seamless continuity throughout the room, allowing guests as much or as little privacy as they like. The monochrome scheme of the bar area is repeatedly picked up through exotic orchids, handmade cabinets and the free-standing piano that is quite the talking point. Elsewhere, bold touches of colour keep the room energised, withpistachio-green soft furnishings offsetting the back copies of National Geographic that line the walls.
The idea, explains Lazarus, was not to create a specific ‘look' that might turn the yacht into a style pastiche. Instead, the effect he was looking for was that of a Manhattan loft - an amalgamation of love-worn objects, expensive furniture and tasteful finishes. Rare antiques and vintage trinkets, so seldom found on boats, their fragility apparently making them unreliable travel partners, are offset by vibrant Missoni Home prints. The day bed is 16th-century Chinese, while the curvaceous bureaus in the hallway and at the bottom of the stairs are equally precious. A framed lobster shell, a particularly eye-catching piece of design in the saloon, was once part of an outstanding dinner that Lazarus enjoyed on one of his many travels, dining being a particular speciality of his. "When I eat, it's all about ambiance. So every glass, every chair is different," he tells us. The dining room with its Molori-designed furniture and Venetian glasses is a show-stopping work of art entirely befitting the dishes served up by Lazarus' team of chefs recruited from world-acclaimed El Bulli restaurant.
In the cabins Lazarus' signature attention to detail is equally evident. "One of the things I was very insistent on," he says, "was more opulent use of space. So we got rid of side tables and opted for bigger beds." In doing so, Lazarus debunks the theory that sleeping on board is a luxury afforded to only the very flexible or the very small and creates cabins that would be at home in a five-star hotel. En-suite bathrooms have been similarly restructured in order to make way for giant marble bathtubs, hand-carved sinks and the panoramic windows that Lazarus had initially wanted in the saloon. Even the showers have been rethought, with taps strategically placed so as to avoid the user getting wet when turning them on.
"I live and breathe my designs," concedes Lazarus, "and I'm not afraid to admit it." With Told U So, Lazarus not only breathes his design, but he also creates a breath of fresh air for those seeking to take to the seas this summer.