Years ago, when Luiz DeBasto was studying architecture at Mackenzie Presbyterian University in São Paolo, Brazil, a professor told him something that has stuck with him to this day.

“There are five ways to think about the structure of a building, but only one best way to resolve it,” DeBasto says.


Thinking about the best way to structure boats of all kinds—finding the best resolution of the client’s requirements—is a skill that has branded Miami-based DeBasto Designs as one of the most versatile studios in the yachting industry. In a little more than three decades, the studio has produced some 250 yachts ranging from smaller production boats to custom superyachts. DeBasto’s portfolio shows a vast range from the classically appointed interior of the 48-foot (14.6-meter) Blue, built by Burger Boat Company, to the ultramodern and groundbreaking exterior design of the 295-foot (90-meter) Oceanco DAR.

“Small boats can be more challenging to design than big boats,” DeBasto says. “You can draw the preliminary profile of a 100-meter yacht in a few lines. With a smaller boat, you have to take away lines to get to the essence. “In my experience, most boats would benefit from a ‘foot operation.’ … If you add one more foot, then we can make things work better.”

DeBasto has a wry sense of humor that crops up frequently in the course of a conversation. He may joke about small boats, but he also thinks some of his smaller designs are among his best work.

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