Fondazione Sanlorenzo: The immersive experience of Sanlorenzo between creativity and innovation

From the perfect combination between Sanlorenzo and the world of art, an important project is born today as proof of the continuous desire of the shipyard to explore new points of view and to propose themes such as sustainability, environment, research, technology, and above all the human being, seen through the eyes of poetry and art.

Fuorisalone 2023 – ‘La Macchina Impossibile’, installation by Piero Lissoni – The installation interprets the shipyard’s relentless pursuit of technologically innovative solutions to reduce the yachting environmental impact – Photo © Andrea Martiradonna

A truly immersive experience. This is the way we can describe what  Sanlorenzo has created over the years in the world of contemporary art. The Italian shipyard’s unique approach to all the artistic initiatives conceived and promoted, has been able to combine together naval architecture, design and art with style, harmony, balance and  consistency: different fields speaking the same  language, that of beauty, good taste and the magic of timeless works.

There are three fundamental elements in the formula that has allowed Sanlorenzo to undertake a path of contamination by embracing languages and expressive forms of similar worlds and to transform these initiatives into successful works, also making use of the collaboration with important galleries and cultural institutions: determination, courage and ability to enrich one’s imagination through new worlds and dimensions.

The approach to the art world stems from the desire to propose a new way of experiencing the sea, exactly how the yard made when for the first time in the yachting sector they entrusted the yachts’ interior projects to authoritative names such as Rodolfo Dordoni, Citterio Viel, Piero Lissoni (Art Director of the company since 2018), Patricia Urquiola and Studio Liaigre.

This article is published in Superyacht Digest, Summer Issue 2023

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Thanks to their collaboration, the company has brought new visions on board, introducing stylistic innovations that have made it possible to reinterpret the concept of on-board space: the numerous innovative solutions created over the years have profoundly changed the yachting world, such as the terraces within the hull, the innovative asymmetrical layout or the introduction of the open space concept on board.

SL102Asymmetric was a great challenge for Sanlorenzo: it is the first asymmetrical yacht in the world, a stylistic solution that has made it possible not only to change the concept of life on board but to recover around 10sqm in the interior spaces. Whether it’s a strategy or a style choice to make the brand ever stronger, dynamic and contemporary until it becomes a lifestyle brand, Sanlorenzo represents an emotional and experiential journey to discover new dimensions, the boat as a place to experiment with multiple forms of art: works of art, naval art and the art of design.

Sanlorenzo SL 102 Asymmetric – The first asymmetric yacht in the world. Thanks to the desire to think differently, to dare to step outside of a traditional custom, SL102Asymmetric is the result of Sanlorenzo’s aptitude for working on the concept of space, molding it at will every time, to give live to ideas tailored on the owner’s wishes.

Sanlorenzo offers a journey outside, that is, into the sea, into the blue made up of infinite horizons and landscapes, but also a journey inside, into the intimate sphere of each of us, private places of the soul accessible only through art and poetry. And in fact Sanlorenzo is also a promoter of poetry, thanks to the project in which it is a partner of the LericiPea Golfo dei Poeti Award and a supporter of the Italian Poetry Festival dedicated to the Under 35s.

Sanlorenzo has also worked in a disruptive way on its corporate image, designing new fairs stands with which to exhibit at boat shows around the world, with breaking design elements that have helped to strengthen the perception of the brand and its areas of action, leading customers to see more and more in Sanlorenzo the executor of their desires in which luxury arises from the perfect combination of craftsmanship and technology.

The global partnership agreement with Art Basel, the most significant modern and contemporary art fair on the international scene, signed in 2018 seals Sanlorenzo as the exclusive partner in its sector, for all three annual appointments: Hong Kong, Basel and Miami Beach. From 2022 also at Paris+, the new Art Basel fair in Paris.

As part of this fair, Sanlorenzo presented projects and installations by important names in the world of contemporary art: from the evocative installation-tribute to the most famous contemporary Italian artist Emilio Isgrò to the last site-specific project by Anna Franceschini (‘The Lady Vanishes’), passing through the work ‘Tempo Piegato’ by Arcangelo Sassolino, the work ‘Suspensions’ by Emil Michael Klein, up to the project ‘360° Horizon’ in collaboration with Marco Palmieri. But also notewhorty is the installation by Piero Lissoni in homage to Alberto Biasi, one of the leading exponents of optical kinetic art in Italy. Without forgetting that in parallel with its commitment to supporting Art Basel, Sanlorenzo participated as main sponsor of the Italian Pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2022, an occasion that the shipyard had already taken in 2017 when they hosted an exhibition of works by Alighiero Boetti, one of the most important Italian artists, on board their SL118 yacht.

Paris+ par Art Basel 2022 – ‘The Lady Vanishes’ by Anna Franceschini – Photo © Thomas Pagani
For Sanlorenzo Anna Franceschini has conceived a new work that seeks to expand the concept of “animation” in sculptural terms, starting from a cinematographic point of departure. The bond between Sanlorenzo and the artist highlights their mutual commitment to unique and innovative design, with the use of recycled materials aimed at sustainability, and confirms Sanlorenzo’s pursuit of excellence in contemporary artistic enquiry.

Sanlorenzo has always been a nautical pioneer with a unique path of responsible development, conquering the sector by overcoming old habits and following new paths, a high-level mission that has been achieved also thanks to the trust of its clients and stakeholders, but most importantly, to the credibility it has gained and grown on the market. Much has already been said about the visionary character of its patron Massimo Perotti, President and Chief Executive Officer of the company, appointed Cavaliere del Lavoro in 2017, but here it is worth emphasizing a second peculiarity: his tenacity.


The world’s first monobrand shipyard in the production of yachts and superyachts over 24m, Sanlorenzo has a tradition of more than 60 years in the production of motor yachts as the result of a combination of craftsmanship, design and advanced technology, tailor-made according to the owner’s specific requirements.

Under the management of Cavalier Massimo Perotti, who has been with the company since 2005, the yard has experienced extraordinary growth raising consolidated net revenues from new yachts from €40 million in 2004 to €740 million in 2022. In 2019 the company was listed on the Euronext STAR segment of the Italian Stock Exchange.

Founded in 1958 by two pioneers of the sector, Gianfranco Cecchi and Giuliano Pecchi, the company was taken over in the early seventies by Giovanni Jannetti who in 1985 launched the first boat with a fiberglass hull and chose Ameglia (La Spezia) as headquarters. With Massimo Perotti new facilities have been added: the new production site in Viareggio, dedicated to the production of fiberglass yachts over 100 feet, the former Cantieri San Marco, headquarters of the Sanlorenzo Superyacht, and finally the center dedicated to the study and development of new models in Massa.

Art Basel Miami Beach 2019, ‘360° Horizon’ by Marco Palmieri. Design concept by Piero Lissoni. Photo © Max Zambelli
Inspired by marine horizons, the project, composed of a series of 8 photographs, creates an enveloping space across three walls, encouraging visitors to enter a place of emotion, where the protagonist is the infinity of the sea, marked only by architectural features in the foreground.

2022 results and the business plan for the next three years

At the end of 2022, Sanlorenzo delivered to its shareholders and all stakeholders a three-year period of excellent results, which exceeded their own forecasts every year and saw a compound annual growth rate of 17.6%, a doubling of EBITDA, an increase of 310 basis points in the EBITDA margin, net profit almost tripled, over €100 million in cash generation, even with the distribution of dividends for about €31 million. Also in terms of human resources, the figure is brilliant, Sanlorenzo has gone from 160 employees to over 700 in ten years.

In light of the consolidated results as of 31 December 2022 and taking into account the subsequent evolution of the order collection, the Company disclosed the guidance for the year 2023, envisaging again a double-digit growth of the main metrics. In line with the vision of the Group for 2030, the 2023-2025 Business Plan, which was presented to the financial community last March, is based on five main pillars: sustainability and technology, development of new models, high value service offerings to customers, direct global coverage strategy, increase in production capacity and acquisitions of strategic supply chain players.

Yachting is an extreme sector. As it is a market niche, by definition, it is very sensitive to any change, for better or for worse. Therefore, going through periods of market crisis without ever questioning its mission but rather pursuing it more and more, make the shipyard and its founder a courageous and strong brand. These characteristics have certainly contributed, together with the success numbers recorded by the company, to lay the foundations for its access to the financial markets, an area in which the shipyard succeeded with a masterful listing on the MTA, the stock market of Borsa Italiana, in 2019. But to continue to offer the best to its clients, with the highest quality standards, specific professionalism is also needed. And so Sanlorenzo Academy was born, an investment in young people and new generations to create specialized professional figures, which are not always easy to find.


The last but not least Sanlorenzo project also represents a big step in terms of investments, and clearly expresses the shipyard’s great interest in art but also its increasingly strategic involvement which sees art as a key place for the develpment of new ideas, and as a meeting place with potential new clients. Host partner of Art Basel since 2018, Sanlorenzo has chosen the temple of contemporary art to present the Group’s new ambitious project: the headquarters of the Sanlorenzo Foundation in Venice mark the future of the company between art, sustainability and growth.

The shipyard offered a first glimpse of what will be the headquarters of the Sanlorenzo Foundation in Venice, which will rise in a historic building near the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute and will be inaugurated in 2024. Established in 2021 at the behest of the Perotti family, Fondazione Sanlorenzo is an innovative institution dedicated to promoting sustainability and environmental conservation by supporting ideas, projects, and research to enhance Italy’s smaller islands and their communities.

Fondazione Sanlorenzo – Photos © Andrea Garuti

With a strong focus on collaborations and partnerships, it seeks to build bridges between science, technology and art, inspiring new ways of thinking and creating solutions to local challenges, microcosms of larger global issues: these include economic stagnation, environmental problems and social isolation.

The vision of Fondazione Sanlorenzo is based on a deep respect for the environment and indigenous populaton: only through a holistic approach that takes into consideration social, economic and environmental aspects is it possible to plan sustainable forms of development.

A series of shots of the interior of the Venetian palace contextualises the foundation on a spatial level, through glimpses that frame the still unfinished rooms that will soon be transformed into the Institute’s premises.

The arched windows overlooking the Grand Canal open up the view of the city, connecting architecture and landscape, man and nature, art and scenery, thanks to a redevelopment that respects the context and history of Sanlorenzo and Venice.

The floor plan of the space and the mock-up in the centre of the Lounge, on the other hand, illustrate what will constitute the sequence of rooms that will host Sanlorenzo’s permanent collection of contemporary art, the site-specific works created by the international artists who at each edition of Art Basel have interpreted the values of the shipyard by addressing the themes of the present within Sanlorenzo Arts. The rooms will also serve as a valuable hub for educational programmes, conferences, artistic residencies, temporary exhibitions, shows and other cultural events: a platform capable of immersing oneself in the complexity of the contemporary through images, words and visions, proposing a voyage of discovery and encounters to navigate towards new latitudes.

Fondazione Sanlorenzo in Venice will be a place in which to experience the company’s different entities, from production to the bond with art, in a continuous relationship between tradition and innovation, choosing culture, sustainability and region as the core values on which to imagine and build a new future.

From the openness to new creative languages comes Sanlorenzo Arts, an active and interactive medium for projects addressing current issues in original and resourceful ways and acting as a true producer of culture and design.

In addition to the partnership with Art Basel, where at each edition Sanlorenzo presents a project commissioned by the shipyard and realised by an international artist, over the years, Sanlorenzo has collaborated with important cultural institutions such as La Triennale di Milano, with the installation ‘Sanlorenzo: Il mare a Milano’, which won the Compasso d’Oro ADI 2020, Tornabuoni Arte and FuoriSalone, with the installations curated by Piero Lissoni.

From 2020 to 2022 Sanlorenzo has also been Institutional Patron of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, the most important museum in Italy for 20th century European and American art.

In 2022 Sanlorenzo was main sponsor of the Italian Pavilion at the 59. International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, an extraordinary achievement for the shipyard, the first in the world to actively engage in promoting and disseminate contemporary art.


Cav. Massimo Perotti, Sanlorenzo Chairman and CEO

SD: “Sanlorenzo is increasingly involved in the development of new projects, from sustainability and new acquisitions to charter and refit. Not to mention the agreement signed for the America’s Cup 2024. In addition to all the initiatives in the contemporary art sector. But how much bigger and more dominant should Sanlorenzo become on the scene? What other dreams for the future?”

MP: “Just to be clear, all this will take a few years. These projects are part of our three-year business plan and will be modulated in a time-proportional manner, also depending on the economic and market situation. In addition to all the projects already announced – I would say – let’s wait to carry them out first and then we’ll set up the next three-year plan. We want to be dynamic, we are dynamic! And full of energy, exactly as a supercar, but, you know, having a super powerful car does not mean winning the race. What you need is being able to discharge the energy to the ground. For a company, dreaming is important, fundamental, you can’t create anything if you haven’t dreamed it first, but secondly you have to be good at realizing them. All the projects you mentioned will come true, it will require a lot of effort but we will make it. What will come next, actually, I do not know. Our ideas are always evolving, in flow, and are often influenced by what we live everyday. Even here at Art Basel, where we have just presented the Sanlorenzo Foundation, we have met people with whom we have exchanged ideas. All the people we meet, charge us with new energy. As it has always been in my life, if you face new experiences, meet new people and know new worlds – such as this of the conteporary art – showing  a little sensitivity and the right attention, these situations offer you the possibility to gain new insights and valuable inspiration for your next business. A kind of approach that I always try to teach my staff”.

SD: “How much does the company reflect you, Massimo Perotti is Sanlorenzo and Sanlorenzo is Massimo Perotti?”

MP: “I’d say yes, I live the company every day and one of my goals now is to transfer my way of being, doing and living to my collaborators. It is a method that every entrepreneur does, or should do. I’m 62 today, so given my age, I’m trying to take small steps backwards, month after month, year after year, regarding the daily operational aspects, leaving them to the responsibility of my collaborators. What I will continue to do is chart the route to success, especially for the major projects, for the big strategies, trying not to make mistakes”.

SD: “In your opinion, if someone thought of trying the same road as Sanlorenzo today, could they be as successful as you? I mean, what market conditions would they find today, favorable or not?”

MP: “I bought Sanlorenzo in 2005 and only after three years, in 2008, the world entered a very deep crisis for a period of 6 years, the worst crisis in the history of the yachting sector since the 50s. So I wouldnt’ say I found a really flourishing period, but it’s not that important, because when you are an entrepreneur you need to develop a vision over a long period of time, to make the right choices and have clear ideas. As said before, the most difficult thing is in the way you can discharge the power to the ground. If you can do it, then you are in the perfect conditions to realize your projects. You have only to pay attention to consistency. I take credit for having done always very coherent things, I bought Sanlorenzo when the company had a turnover of 40 million euros with 7 boats built per year, today we achieve 830-840 million, that is twenty times as much with an annual production of 80 yachts. Every yacht we build is made to measure, we take care of every detail, keep the highest quality,  bring innovation in the respect of our tradition. I have always achieved my goals thanks to good sense and a clear vision, but to do this you need to have a lot of experience in the sector. I had been working in the nautical sector for 22 years when I embarked on Sanlorenzo, without that experience I wouldn’t have made it”.

SD: “If you went back, is there anything you wouldn’t do or would you do differently?”

MP: “Uhm… I’m thinking… I don’t want to sound conceited but I can’t find an answer”.

SD: “Have you ever met someone who said no to you?”

MP: “Oh, yes, definitely! I received a no from important managers but also from companies that I tried to buy, for example, Magnum and Wally”.

SD: “What relationship do you have with your clients? Can you dedicate some time to them?”

MP: “Yes, whenever I can, I give them my time and attention. Today I’m here at Art Basel but tomorrow I’ll be with a client at an event”.

SD: “Art Basel is the centre of the world of contemporary art, it is a very closed sector, a niche market and community, which is difficult to get in touch with. Have you ever felt a certain prejudice towards luxury yachting?”

MP: “Of course I have! This is a common feeling that you perceive every time our industry moves into new areas. That’s why I have decided that our future strategy will focus on ‘craftsmanship’, we took this decision just today. Here at Art Basel I  received some good advice. You know, when you talk about yachts you immediately think of a rich man who spends his money to simply buy a luxury boat. You do not think that that money generate an important business for a company and for the workforce. This is the problem. It often requires a big effort to make perceive to the public opinion that our sector builds products that are very significant for the wealthy of our country. When we build a 60-65 meter vessel, this process takes 500,000 hours of work and involves highly-specialized craftsmen, especially Italians, with a specific know-how. We are not a company that simply assembles parts built in China, or who knows where. We create everything in-house or locally, from upholstery  to marbles, from furniture makers to carpentry. Every 65-metre boat we build means, on the one hand, a rich man who buys it, but on the other, at least 180-200 people who work three years to build it. And these workers have their own families, let’s say on average made up of 3-4 people, if we count, with every boat we build, there are a lot of people who live on this. But I will tell you more, the nautical cluster usually adopts a multiplier of 9.2 to estimate the value it generates in related sectors, for example, for each person who works in the production of a yacht, there are at least 9 others for which work will be generated, for example in marinas, ports, crews, service stations, restaurants, bars…”.

SD: “Will also the Foundation generate work?”

MP: “I do not know. Today three people already work there, but the Foundation will be inaugurated in a year’s time, in 2024. There are very active Foundations with a staff of 80-90 people. I don’t want to say that we will reach that number but we will definitely grow, if the Foundation is supported by the right ideas and it will choose the right way to communicate and develop projects that people like”.

SD: “If you think of the entire fleet of yachts you’ve created and you could pick up only one, that one you considered an art object, what would it be?”

MP: “For sure, the Sanlorenzo 40 Alloy. The yacht with those beautiful terraces, built in 2007, that many others have copied. A milestone for Sanlorenzo, it was our first metal yacht. You know, when other shipyards decided to build bigger boats to broaden their offer, they had to buy other brands (Azimut bought Benetti and Ferretti bought Custom Line and CRN). Sanlorenzo, instead, decided to build megayachts under the same brand. We are the only shipyard that is able to offer a complete range of yachts from 20 meters to 70 meters, this is the strength of our DNA, satisfying all our clients from the small boat up to a big project. Not an easy process, some brand in fact, even abroad, tried to do it, but the operation failed. So to go back to the question, the Sanlorenzo 40 Alloy is what I consider an artwork it is the symbol of a unique success and key-model for the birth of our superyacht division that today has a turnover of 220 million euros, representing one of the largest divison in the world”.