Laura Pomponi grew up in Rome, where the qualities that attract people to her now forced her parents to send her to a monastery as a child in the summer afternoons to learn the art of embroidery and, well, keep her out of trouble. She laughingly tells us, “My parents had to keep me busy so I would behave myself! I was at the monastery every day in the summers to learn the art of complicated embroidery. When I was a teenager the tradition continued, and they sent me off to England to study English in these long summers to stop me from being naughty!”
A funny anecdote now, Pomponi’s feistiness as a child actually proved to be the key to learning skills that would ultimately be indispensable in later life. The benefits of learning English when involved in an abundance of travel and international business doesn’t need explaining, but the ability to really understand a behind-the-scenes skill of an element of interior design piqued an interest in colour, shapes, art and design that was already simmering beneath the surface for Pomponi.
Regardless of an artistic flair, Laura Pomponi decided to study technical engineering, something in which she successfully continued in immediately after graduation working for the large Italian tech company, Telecom Italia Mobiles. Explaining the decision to take a decidedly more technical vocation, Pomponi says, “I grew up surrounded by fashion designers – including my grandmother. But I chose to study engineering because I am really passionate about maths and complicated equations. What I actually like about the construction of a yacht is the intricacy of the process. It’s like a DNA spiral, and I love solving these complex issues.”
Travelling the world with the aforementioned position, Italy eventually beckoned Pomponi back to her shores, where Pomponi’s life would take a different direction with a position at the CRN shipyard. Explaining this drastic transition, she explains “I eventually decided to go back to Ancona. I was missing the sea and I was missing my family! CRN were enlarging their shipyard at that time, and knowing nothing about yachting aside from loving to be on the sea and loving sailing, they asked me if I was ready to start on production and go from there. I accepted the challenge and started with them as a Project Manager in 2002.”
It was several years later on a trip to Doha when she decided to put the entrepreneurial ambitions she had had since childhood into action – though it was a chance meeting with a Sheikh on this particular trip that propelled these ambitions into reality. Elaborating on the move from Project Manager at CRN to owner of her own design studio, Pomponi says, “I was in Doha with a friend who designs jewels. We were at a gala, and suddenly I was sitting next to a man who was a Sheik. We got talking and he asked me if I was an interior designer. I looked at him and said, ‘Sheik. I’m not but… I can do it.’ From then on we started to work together. He trusted me, and we started on some of his reception areas at his home. Little by little people in yachting started to call me for project management roles within superyacht interiors. An owner then rang me and asked me to do it all – that was the refit of the Mangusta 40 metre, Shane (ex. Ability) in 2008. The rest is history!”
Today, Luxury Projects is made up of a strong team of 10, all Italian, and all from various backgrounds and disciplines. Although the residential side of design is still something that is very present within the business, Pomponi’s heart really lies in superyacht design, something reflected in the fact that the business in split 70-30 between the two sectors. The passion for superyachts, Laura Pomponi tells us, is connected with the challenge of the build, “The clients on both sides are very demanding, but the spaces on board yachts are very different to residential. The construction of a yacht does not allow for any mistakes, and every element is very bespoke.”