From Hollywood to the Sky: the Planes of Edward Sotto

Master designer Edward Sotto received a unique education. Born in Hollywood, he was mentored by the likes of production designers and Disney’s original artists. He was also born with a theatrical pedigree; his grandfather worked as a scenic and portrait artist at MGM, while his aunt, Marilyn Sotto, was a costumer illustrator and designer for Paramount, Universal, and Disney.

Describing himself as a “Renaissance creative professional,” Edward Sotto’s works are cinematic in style, his eye for dramatic aesthetics having been honed over his thirty-year career in entertainment design. During his tenure as Senior Vice President of Concept Design at Disney’s Imagineering division, he ran his own concept development studio, where his interests would gradually veer towards television, restaurant, hotel, and UHNW residential interiors—and eventually, spacecraft and aviation.

This unique portfolio has culminated in SottoStudios, an L.A.-based experiential design and branding firm. Sotto’s eye for the glamour of yesteryear has now been tuned to the key of ground-breaking transportation, with the company producing revolutionary concepts for the sky, land, and sea.

Let’s take a look at the opulent aircraft dreamed up in the Gatsby-esque imagination of Edward Sotto.

The Skyacht One

“Imagine a yacht that can fly.” The company invites this magical “what if” via its web literature, and it truly answers with the Skyacht One. This is for lovers of the sort of classic luxury one could expect to find in the first-class suites aboard early 20th century steamships. This aircraft, designed for the Embraer Flagship Lineage 1000E, is steeped in nautical grandeur. A hand-painted “trompe l’oeil” and mahogany “hull” establish an overarching theme of navigation throughout the aircraft; apt, as the stars have helped to navigate ships and plans alike. This motif is continued through astrolabes, armillary spheres, charts, handmade brass, and an eye-catching marquetry clock inspired by the 15th century Ducal Palace Studiolo.

The aesthetics of this opulent aircraft interior were further inspired by George Whittel Jr., a Lake Tahoe resident who, in 1939, commissioned the Thunderbird, a Hackercraft motor yacht that took its design inspiration from Whittel’s beloved Douglas DC2 Aircraft. Sotto has worked in the other direction and transplanted the beauty of the high seas to a 36,000-foot soaring altitude, replacing the dull beige of modern aviation with rich wood tones and even faux joinery.

Of course, it wouldn’t truly be a nautical-inspired aircraft without a captain’s quarters, an intimate space filled with book-matched Macassar walls, a panelled ceiling, plenty of padded suede, and plush Cellarius carpeting inspired by 14th century maps.

The Skyranch One

Both the Sotto brand and its ambitious founder are propelled by the motivation to push boundaries, to challenge the limit of possibilities. The studio asked itself whether a yacht could fly—and then dared itself to think even bigger. Questioning the very concept of luxury and landing on a definition of “complicated simplicity,” Sotto became intrigued with the solitude and romance of wide-open spaces. “After all,” says the studio, “aren’t the skies the last frontier of privacy?”

Enter the Skyranch One, winner of the Best Private Jet Concept award at the 2017 Yacht and Aviation Awards in Venice, Italy.

For this lavish interior, Sotto has looked to the west. Bleached woods, inlaid horn windows, soft wool, light grey leather, and Hermes “burlap” inspired wall coverings all harken the airy serenity of a Montana cattle ranch. Its modular seats, finished in rich materials, are inspired by the layering of European saddles. Think elegance, but relaxed.

To learn more about these luxurious aircraft interiors, visit the SottoStudios website; this imaginative team is poised to adapt its grand visions to any plane or refit.


Images via @sottostudiosla (Instagram)