riva boats: designboom visits the luxury boat manufacturer riva boats: designboom visits the luxury boat manufacturer
jun 02, 2009

riva boats: designboom visits the luxury boat manufacturer

the ‘aquariva super’ limited edition. once 100 of the ‘aquariva’ boats were manufactured, a limited edition of 10 were produced. this limited edition model is owned by norberto ferretti, president of ferretti group which has owned riva since 2000. image © designboom


designboom was recently invited to visit and tour the legendary riva boatyard in sarnico, on iseo lake in the lombardia region of italy. considered to be the ‘ferrari’ of the boat world, riva began in 1842 with pietro riva, a carpenter who had moved there from como lake. the reigns were passed on to ernesto, serafino and finally engineer, carlo riva, who created the well-known ‘riva-style’ boat that has made a name for itself all over the world as a synonym for elegance and impeccable taste.

in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the riva boatyard became internationally successful with motorboats produced by carlo riva, who was also responsible for designing the company’s boatyard. his design for the building was meant to mimic the feeling that you are in a boat looking out of the observation deck, where a captain would normally take charge. as one of the oldest boat manufacturers, riva is the only company that started as a boat producer and which still continues to produce boats to this day. riva has never stopped making boats. they even continued production during the second world war.



the ‘riva’ logo image © designboom



inside the riva boatyard, small models of the classic boats are on display image © designboom



the ‘seppietta’ (or ‘little squid’) image © designboom



the ‘seppietta’s’ name is derived from its squid-like shape. it is one of the first racing boats deigned by carlo riva.



an upclose look at the detail and precision in which the riva boats are built. each nail head is aligned horizontally in the same direction. image © designboom



the ‘super ariston’ was built between 1960 and 1976 image © designboom



the dashboard of the ‘super ariston’ image © designboom



a bird’s-eye view of ‘super florida’ and its lobster orange and cream upholstery image © designboom



carlo riva only approved the use of three colours with the mahogany boats. the classic riva colors of turquoise, orange and cream are used to accent the dark wood.



details of the ariston show riva’s fascination of the american cars of the 1950’s image © designboom



the last ‘aquarama’ model which was built in 1996, which riva decided to keep – the classic riva colors are also maintained. image © designboom



cleat details of the ‘aquarama’ – the cleat is metal hardware in which a rope can be fastened image © designboom



a vintage photo of the ‘aquarama’ image courtesy riva



the ‘ariston’ image courtesy riva



brigitte bardot taking a ‘junior’ for a ride in saint-tropez



two riva workers assembling the ‘aquariva’ image © designboom



renderings of the ‘aquariva’ which is 33 ft. / 10.07 m in length image courtesy of riva



each one of the boats gets a number to indicate how many have been produced image © designboom


each year, about 20 ‘aquariva’ boats are produced, which indicates how exclusive these ‘water-mobiles’ are.



a look at the work and equipment used to build the ‘aquariva’ image © designboom



image © designboom



each boat in the boatyard has a board which indicates the boat’s number and progress sheet, so that the next person to work on the boat is aware of what has been done and what is left to complete.



image © designboom



boats are lined up according to how close they are to being completed. the most finished boat is at the end of the line, just about ready to go onto the water, while the boat which needs the most work is at the front of the line, working much like an assembly line.



two men work on preparing pieces of the bow of an ‘aqua riva’ image © designboom



pieces of the bow cut and prepared, ready to be installed image © designboom


the collection of templates that are used to prepare each piece of the boat image © designboom



image © designboom

the ‘aquariva’ in a custom blue bentley color. the client selected this color because he already has a bentley in this blue.



image © designboom



the bentley blue ‘aquariva’ just about ready to leave the boatyard image @ designboom



metal grill image © designboom


getting ready to take the completed boat and test it out on the water image © designboom



riva has very specific tests which they run on the engines and mechanics of each boat to ensure that they are all perfect.



image © designboom



the ‘aquariva’ is the most popular model at riva. the same style, care and detail used to produced the ‘aquariva’ is applied to constructing riva’s larger-sized boats.



mid-stage construction of the ‘rivale’ image © designboom


final stages of constructing a ‘rivale’ image © designboom



a silver ‘rivarama’ which is 44 ft. / 13.40 m in length image © designboom



image © designboom



when a boat is done in a specific color, it isn’t just the exterior that is finished in that color. all major details including the toilet seat cover down to the screws and nails used to construct the boat are painted in the custom color.



custom colored screws image © designboom



the boatyard in classic riva colors, white and turquoise image © designboom



the limited edition ‘aquariva’ owned by norberto ferretti, president of the ferretti group which owns riva. image © designboom



leaving the riva boatyard image © designboom



the streamlined ‘aquariva super’ has minimal waves as it moves through the water image © designboom



the ‘aquariva’ is an ideal boat for water skiing because of the little movement it makes while passing through the water. each one comes with a pair of water skis along with a picnic basket, to enhance your boating lifestyle.



designboom associate, massimo mini taking an ‘aquariva super’ out for a spin image © designboom



massimo steering the boat around iseo lake image © designboom


a small, private island on the iseo lake image © designboom



a look at the bow from behind the steering wheel. the rear window is reminiscent of one of a car, perhaps a cadillac from the 1950s. image © designboom


heading back to the boatyard which was also designed by carlo riva. it has a viewing deck which makes you feel like you’re on a boat. image © designboom



riva also builds larger boats. here workers are aboard one of riva’s 68 ft. long ‘ego’, which is still being constructed. image © designboom



‘athena’ is riva’s 115 foot long yacht image courtesy riva

  • so beautiful, what an ambition to own a Riva – but would it be a classic one? or a new one? what a decision!

    i have some B&W images taken of one in a boatyard on the Giudecca in Venice and a single of one of a very classic one out in the Lagoon. i’ll email them separately.

    Edward Tadros says:
  • Riva is truly one of the best examples of boat design. Thanks for giving great insight into how they are made. Its my dream to own one day.

    Anthony Smith says:
  • Yats are always beautiful.

    JJ says:

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