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Carlo Apollo: Marine expressions of wood


Used in the residential sector, Carlo Apollo’s wooden inlays also offer intriguing possibilities for interior yacht design.

Designer Carlo Apollo

Combining the tradition of Italian craftsmanship with contemporary creativity is the daily challenge of designer Carlo Apollo. Trained under Renzo Mongiardino and Mario Di Donato, and an Honorary Member of the Academy of Luxury in Paris, Apollo is a master of wood. He transforms it to create unprecedented products that merge past and present in his Milan-based showroom. His project, API – Antichi Pavimenti Italiani (Antique Italian Floors), started in 1978, features unique inlays that adorn some of the most beautiful homes internationally. Now, his highly customizable Marine line offers exciting opportunities for yacht interior design.

The Design Process and Selection of Materials

The flooring design process begins with understanding the specific needs of the boatyard and the shipowner. The first step is studying the desired layout, followed by selecting noble materials and media. Apollo explains that materials best suited for the nautical sector must be water and mildew-resistant, with excellent strength and durability. While the choice of materials is influenced by the owner’s needs and the boat’s characteristics, commonly used woods include teak, iroko, mahogany, and oak. For the noble wood substructure, cross-laminated marine plywood is used, along with aluminum honeycomb supports to manage the weight on board.

Among the various formats of Carlo Apollo’s wood flooring, the more compact ones are ideal for the marine industry, offering greater flexibility. These can also be integrated as modular components within larger formats or specific design schemes. Compared to residential designs, yacht designs emphasize technical and structural characteristics, including water resistance, non-slip surfaces, reduced thickness, ease of maintenance, and lightness.

Apollo’s marine line, known as “structural design”, uses woods inlaid with metals such as brass and steel, which are strategic for both aesthetic and technical purposes. The metal adds strength without significantly increasing weight.

Technology, Tools, and Production

The craftsmanship of Carlo Apollo’s work is evident from the early stages of designing patterns for flooring, tiles, rosettes, and inlaid carpets. If the design is not already in the collection, it is made freehand and later developed with precision CAD software. The next stage involves prototyping. After quality checks, the production phase begins, followed by delivery and installation by Apollo’s qualified team, ensuring no third parties are involved.

The cutting phase employs laser and CNC pantograph machines. Despite technological advancements, some processes are still done manually, such as fretwork, and with circular saws and milling machines. Manual processing is preceded by digital printing, transferring patterns to the surfaces to be treated.

Carlo Apollo leverages wood’s natural imperfections to enhance interior yacht design, aligning with the owner’s preferences and the boat’s aesthetics. For refined finishes, wood boards with fewer imperfections are selected and treated by sanding, filling with epoxy products, and finishing with oil or other materials.

The design, if not in the collection, is made freehand for later development with the latest precision CAD software

Wide Range of Applications

Apollo’s expertise in creating precise, quality wood inlays enables various applications in the nautical industry, from flooring to cladding and furniture elements. His private laboratory, equipped with specialized machines and skills, ensures consistent quality and optimal control of all production processes.

High Customization and Sustainability

Apollo’s design and production process allows for high customization, essential for luxury yacht interiors. Experimenting with new patterns, shapes, and material combinations results in high-quality products fitting the overall boat design. He uses reclaimed woods with known origins, like the “briccole” of the Venetian lagoon, which provide an authentic marine link and a distinctive character to the flooring. This sustainable approach tells a story of rebirth and environmental responsibility.