21 Ultimate Gifts 2013: The Sky’s the Limit

  • Robert Ross

THE GIFT
Sky Yacht One, a custom private jet based on the new ultralong-range Embraer Lineage 1000E and created through a collaboration between Embraer and the experiential designer Eddie Sotto.

Starting at $83 million

™The experiential designer Eddie Sotto has teamed with the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer to develop plans for Sky Yacht One, a custom private jet that will feature exterior details and interior refinement evocative of a classic motor yacht.

Sotto will begin with a green Embraer Lineage 1000E (that is, one with no interior fittings), the new extended-range version of the Lineage 1000. It can travel nonstop for nearly 5,300 miles (4,600 nautical miles) and is agile enough to fly in and out of restrictive airports such as London City, Aspen-Pitkin County, and Teterboro (N.J.). The aircraft, a highly modified version of the company’s E190 regional airliner, is the largest in the Embraer Executive Jets fleet. It includes five cabin zones, three lavatories, a full stand-up shower, and a reception area that doubles as a crew lounge.

Sotto, the founder and president of SottoStudios in Los Angeles, is a master of creating experiential environments. His projects explore the boundaries of fantasy and technology. Sotto’s aesthetic combines Renaissance craft, romantic styling, and the future-think of Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI), the branch of the company that creates the theme parks. Sotto worked at WDI for 13 years, the final five as the senior vice president of concept design. He notes that Walt Disney once said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” Sotto says he shares that belief.

For Sky Yacht One, Sotto found inspiration in Thunderbird (www.thunderbirdtahoe.org), the 55-foot motor yacht that the famed boat designer John Hacker created in 1939 for the tycoon George Whittell Jr. so that Whittell could commute to and from his Lake Tahoe estate. The boat, with its streamlined silhouette, mahogany hull, and brushed stainless-steel cockpit, was designed to resemble Whittell’s Douglas DC-2 aircraft. “What if you did the opposite: a plane inspired by the details of a classic yacht?” Sotto muses.

In Sotto’s plans for Sky Yacht One, the aircraft’s exterior evokes the motor yachts of Hacker’s era, combining faux mahogany with polished-aluminum accents on the tail rudder and the leading edges of the wings.

“Sky Yacht One is unique,” says Sotto, “where the ‘wow’ happens every time you see or touch something. It’s not just about luxury—that’s a given; it’s about the story we’re telling in the ‘why’ of the design.”

The plane’s passengers will find modern technology and amenities expressed through craftwork and materials reminiscent of luxury goods of the past. They will discover surprises in details such as seat and lighting controls that are not touch-sensitive switches—instead, the controls will be fashioned from brass and designed with illuminated jeweled knobs, levers, and push buttons. In Sky Yacht One, high tech will meet high touch.

The theme of the Sky Yacht One design is navigation. Boarding the aircraft, passengers will step onto a custom-made Fiore Marino carpet by Fornasetti and be confronted by the StarClock, a wall clock inspired by an Arabian sextant and rendered in beautiful forced-perspective marquetry.

The mahogany accents, pegged and inlaid, with custom brass fittings and hardware will recall portable British campaign furniture. Chesterfield-inspired seating will create the ambience of an old-world gentlemen’s club.

Wood, leather, and shagreen, as well as sumptuous fabrics, carpets, and custom fittings, will abound throughout the cabin. From the meticulous Renaissance-style marquetry depicting armillary spheres to the astrolabe design of the vintage Fornasetti china service to the Riedel crystal, Sky Yacht One will be authentic in its storytelling of luxurious travel through time.

SottoStudios, Eddie Sotto, info@sottostudios.com, www.sottostudios.com; Embraer Executive Jets, www.embraerexecutivejets.com

Completion of Sky Yacht One will require two to three years from the time it is ordered.

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In the below video, Sotto discusses the background of Sky Yacht One.

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