Alessandro Pulina, the Italian designer looking to the East – Interview by DN
After years of experience working for some of the most influential Italian shipyards, in 2014, Alessandro Pulina decided to found his own studio, Pulina Exclusive Interiors
Alessandro Pulina, born in 1978, decided, after years of working for some of the most influential Italian shipyards, to open his own studio, Pulina Exclusive Interiors in 2014, making his dream come true: create his own interior designs both on yachts and in homes. We met with him in his office in Pisa and, surrounded by frescoes and Tuscan marble, he told us his story.
How did you get into the boating industry?
I have a degree in architecture and was lucky enough to have met somebody who changed my life and the vision I had of my career. That person was Guido Spadolini, an innovative architect and visionary; he helped me work on my thesis, and helped me understand that boating was the way forward for me. A short while later I was accepted into an experimental Master’s program in partnership between the Universities of Pisa, Florence, and Genoa. Then, with Paolo Caliari, one of the founders of contemporary yacht design, I started working full time in design. Paolo gave me the chance to sign off of the interior of three boats from 21 to 27 metres, part of the Jaguar brand and sold on the American and European markets.
What were the shipyards you started training with?
I worked for around ten years with Benetti and created a number of interiors for the Benetti Class range. These were the Benetti Classic Supreme, Benetti Vision, Benetti Crystall, and Benetti Tradition Supreme, as well as a few Azimut Grande. After a few years, I became the Style Manager for the Group for their fibreglass yachts, mostly managing production in Viareggio and Fano. This experience in the shipyards gave me all the tools and knowledge I needed, and allowed me to test my creativity by working on a whole vision of my design – including construction aspects.
How did your career continue after that?
Working together with yacht owners from around the world gave me a unique perspective on my craft and allowed me to get to know many different cultures that fascinated me, in particular Asian cultures. After productive and interesting years, I felt it was time to make a change, to work on something different, and I decided to open my very own studio, Pulina Exclusive Interiors. For a while, I continued to work with Benetti and then I began working alongside other shipyards, like Riva, Ferretti Group and CRN, for whom I created the interiors of RIO, the 62 metre steel and aluminium yacht which won a Boat International Design & Innovation Award in February, an award for the most innovative designs in terms of naval architecture, design and elegance of the hull.
This success was due to the fact that the design was developed using a process that followed client needs: the boat needed to become a fantastic place, colourful, where simple lines and natural materials mixed with exotic decor, and, of course, multifunctional spaces. And so we created white walls, in harmony with the marine palette and in perfect balance with the multicolour tones of the furniture and personalised textiles. I mention this because it is one of the many things I like to remember, and that I have achieved over the years, and which have allowed me to express my ideas on design. However, a change was needed, and today I am happy to have done what I did.
Do you also work a lot abroad?
Yes, I work a lot abroad and, between consultations and partnerships, that market takes a lot of my time. I am particularly proud to have participated in the development of the interiors of an 88.8 metre yacht by Pride Mega Yachts, and this is the biggest Chinese yacht on the market. It was a job that was very demanding for the studio, because the spaces on the vessel were large and it was crucial to coordinate perfectly with all the different teams involved. Some of us moved to China for a short while, to ensure the work was done expertly. And so it was. Over time, I have managed to create relationships with yacht owners based on trust and this gives us the opportunity to work a lot now, with direct commissions for both new builds and refits. There are a number of vessels being designed abroad, and we are also working on the exterior of some of them. We have created partnerships with some of the biggest Asian shipyards for line production and now, for example, we are working on a 60-foot motor catamaran, and a 68-foot and 108-foot yacht.
Speaking of your work abroad, we know you have received an important appointment from far away…
Yes, I have been appointed as consultant for the Chinese government in the yachting sector. I am fascinated by that country. Everything is based on respect, curiosity, and a hunger to learn, and I have to say that, up until now, China has given me a lot of professional satisfaction.
What difference has this roaming back and forth for work shown you between Italy and other countries?
What I appreciate in the countries I have worked with, is how things get done quickly. Administration and production is streamlined, decisions are made quickly and allow the project to move forward smoothly. The time from paper to finished project is relatively short. I like to work quickly, my employees know this and luckily they agree with me. I am always happy to hop on a plane, even without prior notice. And this is why I always have a suitcase packed, and my employees, thirteen in Pisa and four in Shanghai, know this well.
Is your studio in the historical centre of Pisa?
Yes, as my head office I have chosen an old and beautiful building in the heart of my city, because it is important for me to be inspired by Italian excellence. We are only a short distance from the most famous tower in the world and this, alongside the beauty that surrounds us, is the added value to our work, because when a client comes to us they are immediately taken in by Tuscany and the charm of Italy.