Keeping it original with Luiz DeBasto

It is on a sunny Florida winter morning when I meet with Miami-based yacht designer Luiz DeBasto. Welcomed into his high-rise office, we briefly admire some of the superyachts docked in the Epic Marina below amongst, which is the 88 metre Miami-regular, Fountainhead.

The sight of the yacht casts my mind to the 1943 Ayn Rand novel by the same name; a story that follows the life of a struggling young architect that chooses to lead a career of originality by following his own unique design principles rather than settling on the visions of others. I would soon find out that this theme of individualism is one that rings just as close to home with DeBasto.

As with the protagonist in The Fountainhead, DeBasto started his career as an architect in Brazil while teaching at the same school of architecture where he spent time as a student. When a local shipyard needed an outsiders view on how to improve a superyacht project, DeBasto went over out of curiosity. His spur-of-the-moment suggestions and alterations were met with nearly instant appraisal.

His days spent working and living in Brazil were numbered however, and as state financial issues spiraled out of control DeBasto had to make a decision. In 1990 all but one of my 13 design projects that I was involved in had to be withdrawn due to the financial meltdown in the country. After having thoughts about moving to the States for some time already in order to reach an international clientele, I moved here to Miami and opened my office i....

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