Gondola design by Philippe Starck

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Dream of Winter Gondola, Philippe Starck’s modern take on the traditional Venetian ship.

Philippe Starck, one of the most prolific and versatile designers of modern times designed

Dream of Winter Gondola, is a motor-assisted gondola concept

Philippe Starck is a French designer widely known as one of the most prolific and versatile designers of modern times. He is incredibly versatile and innovative, and all of his designs breathe the same style: deceptively clean lines that reveal a rebellious spirit.

Starck’s motto is that “evolution is in everything, but only we can control our evolution.”

The project takes the traditional flat-bottomed Venetian ship that has been around for centuries, and adds a modern twist, as a means of highlighting the vital sustainable development challenges Venice is struggling with. These include environmental and social problems, excessive tourism, and depopulation.

The name of the project says everything there is to know about this modern gondola: it can be used all year round. It is also a “dream” in the sense that, in developing it, Starck focused more on how he could improve what he calls the perfect, “more complex” boat, than on whether it was actually possible.

A gondola is flat-bottomed and has high raised ends. It is propelled by a gondolier, who uses an oar to row. The boat is asymmetrical, with the gondolier aft. According to Starck, who has lived on the Venetian island of Burano for 50 years, a gondola is also complex because “its weight is perfectly balanced and it can go straight even in the harshest conditions.”

His winter gondola doesn’t need a full-time gondolier anymore – after all, if you’re going to take this to the water in winter, there’s no point in freezing your hands. Instead, there is a mini solar-powered electric turbine that powers the boat, with the two occupants protected in a small cabin in the center, under a sunroof made of vacuum-molded gorilla glass. In hot weather, with a gondolier on hand, the mini electric turbine would only offer assistance.

A gyroscope would be added to the hull to increase stability and reduce roll. It would be powered by a mix of solar energy and a rotating turbine if the gondolier wanted it. It gives the possibility, at the same time, to propel the gondola and, when the gondola is not in use, to create tidal energy ”.

The boat’s hull is made of laminated compressed bamboo, which is very durable, strong, and has incredible water resistance. Starck says that this material choice would basically make the boat last a lifetime and require no maintenance.

“It’s the same untouchable icon, the same iconic silhouette but washed by time and deeply and structurally modern by technology,” says Starck of his concept.