Having grown up in Ufa, Igor Lobanov’s career began in pursuit of his passion for the automotive and aviation worlds. Degrees in math, car design and a masters in transport design led him to a role within the exterior design department of an iconic automobile manufacturer, before a chance meeting with a superyacht owner (Andrey Melnichenko) in 2003 changed his trajectory entirely. The owner brought Lobanov on as his representative for a groundbreaking new 119m project in build at Blohm + Voss; a project that was to become the mighty Motor Yacht A. This three year career diversion ignited a new nautical passion for Lobanov but also reaffirmed his love of design. Knowing that he had his own story to tell, he enlisted the help of his wife, artist Yulia, and founded Lobanov Design. Established in 2007, Lobanov Design is a studio for the future. With roots in everything from transport design and fine art to interiors and architecture, this young studio’s diverse background gives it a fresh and dynamic approach to yacht design.
The story of how your career began is truly incredible. What is something you wish you had known sooner?
I wish I had known that it takes 10 years and even more to make your name known on the market. I would have approached it differently then. At the beginning I thought making a big and very good looking project means something. Well, not that much, as long as it’s only one project. You need to deliver several projects and appear regularly in the media to make it work.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
Literally everywhere. First of all, from architecture and cars. And I’ve got a hobby – world history. I read a lot about ancient civilizations and lost empires, wars and technologies. I think I picked up some of my ideas from there. For example, Tuhura or Phoenicia projects.
Lobanov Design is, without a doubt, a studio for the future. Do you ever feel as if you were born in the wrong era?
No, I don’t think so. We’re alright here where we are. I think that if it’s hard to do something, like to build the most unconventional looking yachts, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Everything is possible. Of course, it may take time. Of course, sometimes it’s good to ’keep feet on the ground’. Like, for example, for the MY Jubilee, I knew that we were going to propose a unique solution for the superstructure. Therefore, I decided to keep the hull clean and simple as a kind of a contrast to the superstructure. I thought if we design a crazy hull, then it will be way harder to find a client. So, we’re flexible enough to design very classic yachts with an unconventional touch. It’s just got to be new and curious.
What are you currently interested in and how is it feeding into your designs?
I keep dreaming about and proposing designs which haven’t been seen before. The difference is that now, after 12 years on the market we’ve got clients calling directly, which makes us happy.
Who are some of your favorite yacht designers and why?
My favorite designer is Dan Lennard. And of course, Espen. I’m looking at them as the guys of slightly older generation who started their careers before me and surely from the beginning I was looking at them as great examples (Note: ’example’ and ’champion’ is the same word in Italian – ’campione’, an example for the others). Sometimes we meet at the brokers or shipyards and compete for the clients. In any case it’s always a huge respect.
What, in your opinion, does the future of superyacht design and naval architecture hold?
Ecology. It will drive the changes. Very soon we will see the alternative engines, energy saving and propulsion systems implemented on real yachts. Like in the car industry, there will be the petrol, diesel, gas, electric, hybrid engines co-existing in parallel. All sorts of combination of the fuel. We will see much more variety.
Would you rather explore space or the ocean?
I would go on the ocean aboard a spaceship looking vessel.