Award-winning automation simplifies life on superyacht Varvara
In a market where often only the best will do, industry-award winner, luxury yacht Varvara, makes waves.
Despite the luxurious connotations of the ‘superyacht’ world and the clients that inhabit it, not all vessels are equipped with intricately integrated AV systems and kit lists that read like a who’s who of the most highly regarded technology manufacturers. The 33 metre Italian-made motor yacht Varvara is one of the lucky ones, however.
A characteristically-charming offering from Italian shipyard Benetti, with styling by stalwart designer Stefano Righini, the Supreme 108 model is both supreme by name and by nature thanks to a customised user interface, shipwide Crestron automation and extensive entertainment system.
Tasked with integrating an intuitive automated multimedia system that could accommodate business and pleasure onboard the 2017-delivered superyacht was Moscow-based installer Luxury Engineering.
“We’d been working with the client for around 3 years before we joined the Varvara project. We had previously installed full smart home system in his penthouse in the centre of Moscow and he was pleased with the result and a mutual understanding had developed of what he expected of us,” explains Andrey Shubkin of Luxury Engineering. “We work in the yacht market often and are partners of many international shipyards," he adds.
Some yacht owners can be unfussy when it comes to the technology installed onboard, but Luxury Engineering’s client had a strong picture of what he wanted his home away from home to be beyond its interior design and cabin layout. “The client wanted his yacht to be a place where he can relax but have meetings with his friends and business partners as well,” states Shubkin. “One of his main requests was to have an easy way of operating multimedia hardware installed. Secondly, all devices had to be more or less invisible and take not much space in the residential areas.”
One year on from the first initial meeting, the installation on board Varvara would be completed and a little while after the 2017 CEDIA Award for ‘Best Auto, Marine and Aircraft Project’ would come her way on behalf of the technical achievements made onboard the relatively small (in market terms) vessel. Its Art Deco-inspired interior – complete with custom chandeliers – has also led to Kolomeichenkodesign & Benetti Yachts being shortlisted for the ‘Interior Design Award – Power Yacht’ at the 2019 International Yacht & Aviation Awards.
Divided into two entertainment zones, the yacht is equipped with multichannel sound systems, including karaoke functions, six zones of satellite TV, Apple TV, a media server and 10 audio zones with Apple AirPlay function. Each zone and cabin can be instantly adapted by the user to suit its purpose via iPads and touch screens, including the in-cabin RGB lighting, audio equipment and TV screens.
To manage all of the client’s needs on board whilst at sea, Luxury Engineering opted for Crestron technology to be at the heart of the system across all four decks. A centralised 4K DigitalMedia switcher is accompanied by shipwide Sonnex audio distribution, with iPads and Crestron touch screens incorporating the same customised, intuitive user interface, located around the vessel. The latter was particularly important due to the variety of people – the client’s family, guests and crew members – who would be accessing the system.
“We selected Crestron for this project due to its high performance technology, which was perfectly suited to our client’s requirements. The complete system gives the client easy and simple AV control at their fingertips,” says Anna Gorlova from
The Crestron-controlled entertainment system delivers on the client’s request and supports every occasion – from laid-back dining to karaoke nights, complete with wireless microphones. The other essential part of his brief: discretion, proved a little more challenging.
“The most difficult part was making a very complex automation system, which suits all the customer’s requirements, almost invisible, whilst also dealing with a lack a space.” With accommodation for ten guests and four crew members and a host of marine technology already needed onboard, Luxury Engineering opted for built-in products to save space, as well as concealing all signal sources and commutation devices in server racks in the dedicated technical zone, to fulfil this request.
Integrating karaoke system was no simple task as the client wished for each deck to be able to select its own composition. This meant all switching equipment was placed in the server racks and hidden from view, and AV streams were transmitted separately to each karaoke area using DigitalMedia.
To ensure a high quality audio experience, Crestron’s Sonnex audio distribution, combined with an audio expander 8-Zone, was selected to deliver high-output sound to every room. Luxury Engineering say specifying the Sonnex system provided a host of benefits, ranging from high performance sound, plug and play operation, simple integration with Apple AirPlay to minimised wiring, low power consumption and advanced digital signal processing.
The centralised Crestron system now allows the owner to easily adapt and scale the system depending on their needs. The even have the option to run special content across all decks and selected cabins simultaneously, or allow guests to control their own content within each cabin, depending on who is on board.
At the core of the end result is flexibility, wherever Varvara may travel and whether the customer is watching one of hundreds movies together or separately, hosting a business meeting or having a karaoke party.
“The client was fully satisfied by the result and proud of his yacht receiving the CEDIA award,” concludes Shubkin. “We continue to work with him to upgrade the system using the most innovative solutions in the field, because the progress never stops.”
Audioquest cables and connectors
Autonomic network media player
Axis IP cameras
Cisco switch ports
Crestron 3-Series control system & touch panels, access points, switches, converters and audio processors
Dune media player
Gefen signal transmitters and converters
Legrand patch panels
Middle Atlantic racks and accessories
Oppo UHD Blu-ray player
Shure microphone system