Marty A. Lowe Tempers the Sleekness of an Italian-Made Megayacht With Laid-Back Touches
Marty A. Lowe has been masterminding yacht interiors for thirty-odd years—ever since, as a recent design school graduate, she was introduced to a boatbuilding executive at a family wedding. In the intervening three decades, Lowe has worked on myriad seacraft, but claims she’s found her ideal model in the SL86 motor yacht from noted Italian maker Sanlorenzo. “It’s a sweet spot for me: just the right size,” she says of the 27-meter-long three-deck cruiser, prized for its racy profile, voluminous interior, and uber customizability. “It’s a very innovative yacht, from a very innovative company,” the first to introduce such elements as terraces and asymmetrical massing, Lowe explains.
Her first SL86 commission was the prototype that introduced the model to the American market, which trends more casual than its European counterpart. Lowe collaborated closely with the naval architect and engineer to finesse the exterior profile and the placements of systems. She approaches this step in the process methodically and meditatively: “The shipyard builds a 2-foot model in the concept stage, and then I stare and stare and stare at it before tweaking the proportions.” The SL86 has floor-to-ceiling windows midship, where she advocated slightly lowering the fiberglass bulwarks to admit more light—“a kind of controversial move,” she says. Also in the name of expansiveness, she tucked LEDs into linear recesses in the lacquered ceiling and floated companionway treads on stainless steel stringers to preserve sight lines through the adjacent window.
Lowe’s interior scheme exhibits utter restraint and a tantalizing tactility, her self-described wabi-sabi approach to materiality a foil to the sleek architecture. “It’s fun to play off precise lines with something organic and imperfect,” she notes. Flooring throughout is distressed plain-sawn oak with a surface imprint evocative of linen-wrapped timber. Cladding cabinetry and some bulkheads are pine planks that Lowe had soaked to draw out the grain and then whitewashed to tone down the coloration. Modular slabs of face-carved, backlit Carrara marble bring a statuesque bearing to the dining area. Swaths of pezzara, interweaving leather and slubby cotton, accent walls in the master stateroom and companionway. “I like a lot of texture,” Lowe says. “I’m always pleased when I see people touching surfaces as they walk through a space I designed.” (She laughingly admits this tends to frustrate boat crews, known to silently trail behind with polishing cloths.)
The vessel debuted at Florida’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show two years ago. There it was purchased by entrepreneur Adam Sandow, chairman and CEO of SANDOW, whose portfolio encompasses various media titles (Interior Design, Galerie, NewBeauty, and Luxe Interiors + Design), fashion brand Fred Segal, global materials consultancy Material ConneXion, and game-changing technology and logistics platform Material Bank. Sandow, who frequently travels between his offices in New York and Boca Raton, had been wanting a yacht for business use.
Lowe had indeed designed the yacht, which sleeps eight (plus three crew members), with group entertaining in mind. “More clients these days have kids and want to spend quality time at sea together,” she points out. That being said, Lowe carved out different hangout zones so that guests feel less on top of one other. “I really exploited all the outdoor spaces the SL86 offers by establishing a series of lounge and conversation areas,” she says. The kids can congregate up at the bow, for instance, while mom and dad chill at the bar midship. Such spatial variety is also good for another reason: “Dining is a big focus when you’re cruising, and the crew works hard to make each meal special,” Lowe notes. “We took that idea one step further by introducing numerous eating areas here.” There’s the Norman Foster glass-top Nomos table in the salon, a pair of cozy dinette tables under the galley’s leather-accented skylight, a 10-seater up on the fly bridge, and cocktail tables servicing the decks’ minimalist Francesco Rota sun beds and lounges.
Sandow, an architecture and design buff who fell for the Sanlorenzo brand’s philosophy and approach—“their quality and attention to detail are like nothing I’ve ever seen”—made minimal modifications once he took possession. “Marty has such a thoughtful and modern aesthetic,” he says. He mostly added lighting, accessories, and select furnishings, as well as a curated selection of prints and sculptures from his extensive art collection. “I hand-picked some of my favorite pieces, such as Andy Warhol’s Paris Review and Speedy Graphito’s House of Cards,” which sits on a leather-top console. Graffiti-inflected works by KAWS, Pure Evil, and Keith Haring add a karate chop of color, not to mention irreverence, to the otherwise beachy-neutral tone-on-tone décor. “I provided him a pure palette to add to,” Lowe says. Pure, perhaps; purely livable, for sure.