Pierre Yovanovitch

Pierre Yovanovitch

When I am working on a project, the frame and the surroundings are always a source of inspiration. I could never design an interior in New York or Tel Aviv the way I would in Paris, Zermatt, Comporta, or The Hamptons.

In your projects you work with the world’s best artisans in metal, ceramics, stone, and textiles. What is the role of contemporary craftsmanship in your work? 

My cultural roots line in the architecture and decorative arts of France. It was the starting point of my work. Later on it was enriched with influences from other cultures, such as the Scandinavian and American cultures. I have this natural affinity, though, with the French and their craftsmanship and métiers d’art, of which I am a proud advocate. I think it is important to transmit this savoir-faire and to respect the history of contemporary and innovative projects. The wonderful artisans I get to work with are, in a way, the personification of this spirit. I love it when you can see and feel the artisan’s touch in a work. To me it makes the places more human. Since starting my agency I have been able to pick my own dream team. We understand each other perfectly. This allows us to work together on projects that are always different and even more successful.

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Why did you accept the challenge of launching a proper furniture and lighting collection at R & company? What is the common thread uniting these pieces?  

When Evan Snydermann asked me to curate a furniture expo, I immediately wanted to show my own designs. I had already designed numerous furniture pieces for my interior projects, but the idea of stepping out of that context and presenting a collection of pieces that were not dependent on a place had been running around my head for some time. So this was too wonderful an opportunity not to embark on this new adventure. I took the process of developing these pieces very seriously. At the same time, I wanted the expo to be light, accessible, and interesting. All pieces had to have a playful side. I wanted to somehow desacralizar design, because I don’t feel things always have to be serious. Furniture gives life to an interior. When I had to come up with a name for the collection, the first thing that popped into my mind was OOPS. You could say that this is the result of fifteen years of research with the best artisans of Europe, with whom we work. To me this is something essential that makes this furniture collection possible.

Is your approach different depending on whether you’re designing a private house, a collection of furniture, a boutique or an art gallery? 

When I am working on a project, the frame and the surroundings are always a source of inspiration. I could never design an interior in New York or Tel Aviv the way I would in Paris, Zermatt, Comporta, or The Hamptons. My architectural approach -no matter how radical it may be- does not seek to denature the spirit or the function of a place. Nowadays, I get the opportunity to express myself in projects located in very different places: residential and institutional projects, hotels and commercial premises all over the world, in France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Switzerland, the US, Israel, Portugal. In my OOPS collection I stayed true to my signature: it is defined by my thoughts about volume and geometry, a sophistication without arrogance, a search for contrasts, an attention to every small detail, and a taste for authentic materials (wood, marble, stone, glass, metal, ceramics, and natural textiles). My challenge is to constantly create tension between the place, the materials, design pieces, and artworks, so that I can give the spaces a timeless signature.

La Partinoire Royale is a protected skating rink dating back to 1877 that was once used as a private space by a classical-car collector. You transformed that magnificent hall and its thousand square meters into the biggest gallery space in Belgium. That seems like a challenge. 

Everything looked so tiny in that monumental hall. You tend to get lost in space. A human intervention was needed. The building, with its authentic neogothic vaults, had to be preserved. And, since it is a gallery, the artworks had to be the protagonists, not the interior. Through a selection of simple gestures, we managed to optimise the space and add some intimacy. We introduced a sculptural staircase that is the reference for the scale of the space. It is hidden in a floating white box and leads to an almost invisible passageway from which you can admire the exhibition from a bird’s-eye perspective.

You are a self-taught man who has made it to the select club of international interior architects with global projects. But your roots are Pierre Cardin. 

I worked for him as a fashion designer. For eight years, I was responsible for the prêt-à-porter men’s collection. It was an interesting period. I appreciate Cardin enormously because of his mastery of the line, and his feeling for proportion and volume. That’s what fashion and interior architecture have in common. He once asked me if I wanted to start an interior-architecture office with him. I politely refused. At that moment, my own taste and style were already too evolved. And that didn’t fit his vision for the future of his company.

How did you manage to become successful? 

I first designed interiors for friends and family. I got more and more assignments by word of mouth; that’s the way it goes in Paris. In 2001 I started my own office. First I drew at my kitchen table. I really had no idea how clients would find me. But thanks to some scenographies and publications that were well received, my name began to circulate. A few years ago, Mr François Pinault discovered my work. I have been working for him ever since. Our team consists of about thirty architects in two offices: mostly architects who think in terms of volume, not in terms of decoration.

Francesco Balzano

Sometimes he uses natural stone as a monolith, sometimes he combines it with noble metals or precious materials. Together we created a series of items by Van Den Weghe.
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