Posted inInterviewDesign & Architecture

“Sindalah Island will be the first completed project in NEOM”

Luca Dini, Founder, LUCA DINI Design and Architecture in an exclusive conversation shares insights about the groundbreaking Sindalah Island in NEOM, and how he is pushing boundaries in the world of architecture and design

“Sindalah Island will be the first completed project in NEOM”

In the Middle East, where the demand for innovative and bespoke luxury is substantial, LUCA DINI Design and Architecture excels by pushing the boundaries of traditional design. They do not just create spaces, they create experiences that reflect the complex identities and aspirations of the clients.

Let’s take a closer look at how Luca Dini, the mastermind behind LUCA DINI Design and Architecture, is raising the bar for creativity and sophistication in the world of architecture and design.

Can you tell us about the journey of LUCA DINI Design and Architecture from its inception to its current standing as a leading design studio?

The birth of LUCA DINI Design and Architecture in 1996 marked the beginning of a remarkable chapter in the realm of luxury design, rooted deeply in the artistic heritage of Florence. My initial journey into the design world began earlier, in 1987, working with a yacht design studio, which was one of the four studios at the time. This experience sparked my passion and led to the establishment of my own studio.

From crafting our first yacht to now having launched 89 superyachts navigating globally and 13 under construction, each project showcases our commitment to elegance, functionality, and innovation. Our expansion into architectural design has further solidified our reputation, allowing us to venture into everything from designing yachts to luxurious homes and even whole islands.

Our studio has grown with key geographic expansions, including the opening of our office and showroom in Forte Dei Marmi and the upcoming new offices in Riyadh and NEOM, strategically positioned to manage our growing portfolio of projects in the Middle East. Each step in our journey is about transcending boundaries, creating unforgettable designs, and pioneering the future of luxury architecture.

An aerial view of Sindalah Island

With your background primarily in superyacht design, what prompted the expansion into residential architecture, and how has this transition influenced your approach?

Our expansion from superyacht design into residential and hospitality architecture was a natural and strategic evolution. This transition was driven by our firm’s deepening expertise and growing reputation, which placed us third in Italy for turnover as a joint-stock company in 2023. Over the past few years, we’ve been presented with some exciting proposals that sought to leverage our yacht design experience.

This shift has led to a tripling in the size of our studio. Today, architectural projects comprise half of our portfolio, a testament to our successful diversification. Integrating three decades of superyacht design experience, we approach residential architecture with a unique perspective that emphasises fluidity, elegance, and innovation. At our studio, yacht design and architecture have seamlessly merged into two distinct yet harmonious disciplines. In our world, where aesthetics, functionality, elegance, and innovation co-exist, the boundaries between sea, sky, and land blur effortlessly.

Picchiotti

Can you highlight some of the key projects undertaken by your studio?

Over the years, we have achieved significant milestones that have contributed to our recognition today. Designing The Tribu—one of the pioneering explorer yachts for Luciano Benetton, was one of the many vital milestones we attained over the years. This project marked a significant achievement in our journey of designing superyachts, showcasing our ability to innovate and meet the demands of discerning clients.

Expanding into architecture and urban design five years ago was another crucial milestone for us. This expansion demonstrated our versatility and capacity to adapt our designs to diverse contexts while maintaining our signature style and quality. It underscored our commitment to catering to the evolving tastes and needs of the industry.

Our collaboration with NEOM, Sindalah, represents a milestone in our studio’s trajectory as we design new urban and residential spaces overlooking the Red Sea. This project presented a unique opportunity for us to create an island from scratch, including every structure, marina, village, resort, private villa, and even a golf course.

In addition to Sindalah, the studio is currently managing several projects in the Red Sea and Dubai, demonstrating our versatility and capacity to thrive in diverse geographical contexts. These projects extend beyond our collaboration with NEOM, a testament to our ability to envision and execute large-scale, comprehensive projects that redefine luxury living. We are also engaged in projects in Europe, highlighting our global presence and our commitment to excellence on an international scale.

An aerial view of the Luxury Resort South

NEOM is a ground-breaking project in many aspects. How did you get involved in the development of Sindalah, and what unique considerations did you have to take into account when designing the luxury island resort within this futuristic city?

Our journey into the NEOM project, particularly the development of Sindalah Island, aligns perfectly with our studio’s reputation for pioneering in bespoke luxury design, both on sea and land.

In designing Sindalah, a luxury island resort envisioned as a beacon of the “future of luxury travel”, we were tasked with creating both, the master plan, and the detailed architectural and interior designs for the entire island. This 840,000-square-metre project is aimed at the yachting community, incorporating an 86-berth marina and an exclusive yacht club.

The design of Sindalah required meticulous integration of sustainable practices with uncompromised luxury. The master plan was conceived to enhance the natural beauty of the island, structured around the marina, and ensuring that every element preserved the island’s pristine environmental integrity. We also utilised materials crafted in collaboration with skilled artisans designed to harmonise perfectly with the surrounding architectural aesthetics and the hues of the sea, sky, and island sand.

It will be the first completed project in NEOM, boasting year-round appeal, and a thriving marine ecosystem. Positioned just a few hours away from Europe by air and less than a day by sea, it will be the ultimate luxury yachting destination for yacht owners seeking an alternative to the Caribbean in the winter.

Sindalah is designed not just for luxury but also for ecological sensitivity. It aims to preserve its vibrant marine ecosystem, adhering to NEOM’s vision of environmental stewardship. This commitment to sustainability sets Sindalah apart as a model of future city development, offering a unique blend of advanced amenities and natural integration, making it a pioneering luxury maritime destination.

A day at Sindalah Village

How do you ensure that your designs meet the expectations of your high-profile clientele in the GCC region?

We believe in a tailored approach to design that goes beyond simply meeting expectations—we aim to exceed them. Instead of adhering rigidly to a predefined design philosophy, we take the time to understand each high-profile client’s unique needs and preferences in the GCC region. This personalised methodology ensures that every project is infused with authenticity and individuality, reflecting our studio’s vision, and the distinctive character of our patrons.

What sets us apart is our ability to cater to our client’s specific lifestyles. We go beyond designing spaces and consider every aspect of their lifestyle, including their preferences for food and entertainment. To achieve this, we collaborate with leading brands, many of which we have previously worked with in luxury yacht design. Drawing on this experience, we bring a unique blend of sophistication and functionality to our architectural projects, ensuring they seamlessly integrate with the natural environment.

Golf Club

What role do cultural influences play in your designs?

Florence has always been a fountain of inspiration for our firm’s projects, both on land and at sea. This inspiration extends beyond its beauty to its longstanding artisanal tradition. This cultural influence fuels our passion for research and development, driving us to innovate and push boundaries.

Our designs seamlessly blend tradition and modernity. We strive to create spaces that resonate culturally with our clients. Ultimately, our goal is to astonish even the most discerning clientele, offering them a glimpse into a world where cultural influences intertwine with cutting-edge design to create something truly extraordinary.

View of the Upper Upscale Resort from the room

What are some notable trends you’ve observed in the luxury design industry, particularly in the GCC market, and how does your studio adapt to these changes while maintaining its signature style and quality?

In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on sustainable and eco-friendly designs, integration of intelligent technologies, increased demand for personalised solutions, and wellness-focused spaces. At our studio, we incorporate these changing preferences while maintaining our hallmark style. We integrate sustainable materials and energy-efficient technologies into our designs, prioritise personalised solutions tailored to each preference, and create spaces that promote well-being. With the GCC’s burgeoning high-end real estate sector attracting diverse brands, we emphasise exclusivity and quality in our projects.

Luxury Resort South

Looking ahead, what are some upcoming projects or initiatives that you’re particularly excited about?

We’re thrilled about several upcoming projects, especially our collaboration with NEOM. Moreover, we are committed to expanding our presence in the GCC market, leveraging opportunities in the region’s growing luxury sector. Additionally, we aim to strengthen our foothold internationally by pursuing innovative projects and fostering collaborations with esteemed partners worldwide. Our vision is to remain at the forefront of luxury design, delivering unparalleled excellence, and elevating the standards of architectural innovation on a global scale.