Ipanema: Inside the world’s biggest red yacht

Ipanema, a 50-metre yacht designed by Hot Lab and built by Mondomarine, has been doing sterling service for her owner since her launch in 2016

Rich and fierce, and with an athletic poise, the astonishing red-hulled 50m yacht Ipanema, launched by Mondomarine last year, occupies the water with the confidence of an enormous floating Ferrari. And what a red that hull colour is! Not a cloudy burgundy of some understated elegance if a little dullness; it’s a brash, screaming, high-gloss scarlet.

Once you’ve recovered from the endearing shock of the exterior, a whole new world of enigma awaits inside. You’d expect something that matched the contemporary flair of the exterior with a calculated coolness, something masculine and mechanical perhaps.

What you get is an eclectic mix of the traditional and modern that brazenly nods to so many art and design styles. It’s a bold approach – as bold as the yacht’s exterior styling – and it gives a hint of the all-inclusive philosophy with which Ipanema has been put together.

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Ipanema began life as a concept on paper, a standard member of Mondomarine’s M50 all-aluminium, semi-displacement range. Designed by Hot Lab, the M50 – created in 2013 – echoes the youthful boldness of the design house, and there was clearly a meeting of minds when the owner came on board with the project.

“We started talking to the owner [in 2013],” says Antonio Romano, one of Hot Lab’s founding partners. “He liked the exterior styling of the concept and didn’t make any major changes.

“But he did want to change the beach club. Privacy was important to him and his family, and he didn’t like the idea of a large open area at the back of the yacht.”

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A beach club is generally something you wouldn’t want to get rid of in a modern superyacht, and would represent a substantial loss to guests, but aboard Ipanema there is a distinctive gain: a huge tender in the extended garage.

The 7.4m Monterey unit is substantial beast for a 50-metre yacht to digest, but it has been achieved by the judicious movement of a bulkhead. A further complication comes because the owner wanted a petrol-driven tender, which created a world of engineering, fuel supply and fire-risk-assessment pain for the yard to overcome.

A second change the owner insisted on was in the owner’s suite windows on the main deck. “He had seen another 50-metre Hot Lab project and wanted the same windows. We were happy to copy ourselves!” says Antonio.

The early design had a very straight window line heading towards the bow; what has been developed for Ipanema is a scooped cut-out forward, which is more in keeping with the energetic superstructure styling elsewhere.

That forward window also suggests an owner who is not afraid of visual drama, which brings us back to the hull colour. After the initial renderings were produced, Hot Lab’s colour scheme hadn’t changed from “standard grey, white and black”, says Antonio.

“But the owner wanted to shock and so we came up with the idea of a striking red. It is also a colour associated with good luck. It’s a very intense experience to see this colour, but we were careful that the red never touches the white of the superstructure.

“One of our design partners, Michele Dragoni, has a background in car design and really understands how surfaces and colours interact. By keeping the red and white apart, the human eye better sees the whole vessel.”

Antonio describes Ipanema as “the world’s biggest yacht ever in red”, and it’s clearly something he is proud to have in the portfolio.

Ipanema is a yacht with her make-up on. She’s a yacht that’s wearing her lipstick!” he says.

So how did that very eclectic interior come about, and that unusual juxtaposition between the exterior and interior styling? “We had some initial interior renderings for the M50 that were minimalistic, but it was clear that Ipanema’s owner wanted something different. The first point was that he liked traditional, classical architectural features.”

Hot Lab’s immediate response was, says Antonio, “to consult some books!”. “All of our interiors so far have been minimalist, modern in style. Now we started to study 17th-Century architecture.

“We had to understand Renaissance styles. In fact, the flower patterns you can see at the top of many of the columns are directly inspired by a Renaissance palace in Florence.”


The owner was communicating with the design team several times a week, emailing clippings for the mood board and his own design ideas. Out of this grew the designers’ sense of an interior that would suit. “It was a challenge for us because it was something unknown, but the client was very clear, very precise about what he liked.

“A key thing was that he wanted everything bespoke. We couldn’t simply pick a pattern of carpet. He wanted something unique, designed just for Ipanema. Everything you see is custom made, right down to the hand-made porcelain switches. It was a massive amount of work.”

Even the main-deck galley has the feel of a country kitchen, with a personal vibe rather than the austere exhibition of metal and Miele that characterises most superyacht galleys.


It’s not only the sense of contrast between the exterior and the interior that is striking; it’s also the richness and vividness inside – the colours, the mirrors, the brew of elements. Marble is a key material – there are 14 different types used on board.

“There are also over 20 different fabric patterns,” says Antonio. And there’s that recurring flaming-red flower motif, too, which you see attached to columns at eye-height throughout the yacht, in suites, bathrooms and corridors. “We produced these on a 3D printer – over 100 of them,” says Antonio.


There’s a further surprise in this yacht of surprises: Ipanema has seven guest cabins, with two single suites on the bridge deck (which share a bathroom), an enormous main-deck master with lots of natural light, and four colour-themed guest cabins on the lower deck.

Though certified for charter, this is a yacht designed for private cruising with a large family, and in that respect she is precisely fit for purpose.

“We are very proud of the yacht,” says Antonio. “We are particularly proud of the teamwork, and of delivering just what the client wanted. It was exactly the yacht he desired.”


So does he have a favourite area of the yacht? “I am most proud of the master cabin and bathroom. There is so much marble in the bathroom! And I really like the skylight from above bringing in natural light. Mondomarine did an amazing job with the marble.”

After the 2016 Monaco Yacht Show, the owner has based the yacht in Turkey, from where Ipanema has been doing just what she has been designed for: providing the perfect base for extended family cruising. And, of course, an engaging talking point for anyone on shore who happens to see the red beast on the water.

First published in 2017 for Super Yacht World.


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