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Yachts Emirates March-April 2013- “AQUARIA” FINAL FIVE PERCENT

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When a yacht is launched and commissioned by a shipyard, especially production motor yachts, the interiors are exceptionally well appointed but lack the finishing touches that transform them from a floating hotel into the owner’s floating second home. Demi Profi of Aquaria Design is on a mission to liberate UAE yacht owners.

By Shaun Ebelthite Images Courtesy of Aquaria.

From the moment Demi Profi, self-described perfectionist and workaholic, sits down at the table at the Dubai Marina Yacht Club, she starts re-arranging the place settings and cutlery, moving my cup of tea so that it was easier for me to take notes as we talked. She could see how the ergonomics of our table could be improved with a single glance, but without coming across as overbearing. It is a skill she has acquired through years of experience in the world of design, speci- fically marine design. “Aquaria as a company is young, but as a designer I am not, I’m always looking at how a room or table can be made better,” she laughs when I point this out to her. Demi set up Aquaria in Dubai after spending several years working very closely with Decon, an interna- tional marine outfitting company in Greece. Working with carpenters, engineers, interior designers and naval archi- tects at Decon, she has transformed or improved some of the largest and smallest yachts in the world.

“What I want to do in Dubai at the moment is create the finishing touches that people need for their yacht interiors,” says Demi when asked why she’s brought her services here. “I collect the upper crust of supplies that need to be in a yacht. I also work very closely with an Italian artist and designer called Giovanna, who will create custom made vases, glassware, cutlery, deco- rations… anything!” Demi then furnishes a yacht with these custom items, from towels and bed linen made by a 150-year-old family business in Venice to porcelain decorations made in France. In this way, she transforms the yacht into the owner’s personal haven and a floating statement on taste and refinement. “I want perfection,” says Demi with a pent-up enthusiasm that is contagious. “When you look around at these yachts, so many of them are hardly ever used,” she says, gesturing toward the marina and the many dormant yachts moored within. “If I can make these yachts more personal and homely for their owners, maybe they’ll use them more.”

Demi speaks from experience. “I used to own a 55-foot yacht and for many, many years I spent a considerable amount of time aboard an 80m superyacht. I know about the marine lifestyle and what it can do to certain mate- rials, so not only will I create the finishing touches an owner wants, but I’ll also say no if what they want isn’t going to work.” Such an approach seems rather hard- line, so we ask Demi to elaborate. “A client might want a silk duvet for example, and although it is a very nice and luxurious material, in the humidity of a marine environment it’s going to be extremely uncomfortable at night. Even if you have air-conditioning.” Similarly, Aquaria will find alternative materials for those that will get damaged easily due to shipboard life. “Crystal glassware does not survive long aboard a motor yacht,” Demi tells us matter-of-factly. “But there is acrylic glassware that to see and touch is exactly the same. I find these alter- natives for my clients.”

Demi’s desire for the interior’s she works on to last for years to come is a personal one. “I want the perfect dres- sing on the yacht to showcase my work; every project for me is an opportunity to really show what I can do and I have never missed a deadline or failed to meet a client’s expectations.” Those sceptical of the veracity behind such statements need look no further than pre- vious yachts Demi has worked on. In the case of one particular 82m charter yacht built by Oceanco, Demi was called upon to change the original black trim on 150 pil- lows in two days, while at the same time installing a new vanity desk in the owner’s suite. “The pillows were done on time, but we all had to eat and sleep in the factory,” says Demi. “The vanity mirror was also a real challenge because the wood had to exactly match the wood of the original cabinetry. The captain was amazed, he was sure we would miss the deadline.”

So will Aquaria be offering such specialist refit services in the Gulf? “Not at present, because I still haven’t found any local suppliers or shipyards that meet the standards my clients expect.” With her vast network of suppliers in Europe, however, Demi promises to transform the interior of any yacht owners boat, whether it is brand new or several years old. When she finds a high-quality outfitter in the Gulf, she’ll expand her services. “When a yacht is launched it is 95 percent complete,” says Demi. “That final five percent is everything that turns it from just another yacht into your yacht, by putting your iden- tity on it and making the interior that little bit better.” It shouldn’t be thought that all these services cost a small fortune either. According to Demi, it all depends on what the owners wants from their yacht.

“I collect the best-of-the-best,” says Demi, “but that can mean the best of affordable materials and supplies as well. If you want every single glass to be hand-blown just for you, then of course it will cost more. We are able to work to a range of budgets, just as we can work on a 40’ flybridge or a 40m superyacht.” As we wrap up the interview, I ask Demi what it is that she wants Aquaria to stand for in the minds of yacht owners in the UAE and her answer is immediate. “If they have any requirement at all, that doesn’t involve structurally changing the inte- rior, I want them to think ‘Aquaria can do it’.” Demi will have a selection of her suppliers’ products on display at the Dubai International Boat Show where she will be hoping to show local yacht owners what a difference the final five percent can make.

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