Cover Pierre Yovanovitch, pictured with some pieces from the debut collection of Pierre Yovanovitch Mobilier (Photo: Jean-Pierre Vaillancourt)

French designer Pierre Yovanovitch shares with us how aspects of history influence his designs for his new furniture brand Pierre Yovanovitch Mobilier

French designer Pierre Yovanovitch is quite a history buff. “I have a deeply rooted love for the Swedish Grace, a not-so-well-known design movement from the 1920s,” he shares. “Gunnar Asplund, who I consider to be one of the greatest Swedish architects of the first half of the 20th century, was part of this decorative movement, as was Axel Einar Hjorth.”

Admiring the “rigour, balance, curves and depth of materiality” of the furniture from the era, he notes that that the design of the pieces was “very simplistic with an organic, raw quality, whilst also containing extremely sophisticated elements to them, too”. It comes as no surprise then, that the designer’s ongoing fascination with the dated period is reflected in his transportive interiors, which range from high-end residences to hospitality spaces such as the Christian Louboutin Beauty flagship boutique at Galerie Véro-Dodat in Paris and the five-star ski hotel Le Coucou in Méribel, France. 

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The design extraordinaire, often revered for his mastery at restructuring historical spaces with art and artisan pieces to create a contemporary edge, also admires the 1930s and 1960s, citing Nordic designers such as Frits Henningsen and Paavo Tynell as well as American designers such as James Mont and Harvey Probber as sources of influence. 

“Mid-century American designers knew how to overturn conventions such as steel, cork, ceramic and wood into variations of these materials that were not necessarily found in Europe,” Yovanovitch says. “My attraction to this period in American design corresponds to the interiors I create. I like the strength and authenticity of designs with an almost architectural perfection; I prefer an apparent simplicity in the statement itself, with personality, elegance, an exactitude that is timeless as well as a touch of originality without ostentation or arrogance.”

The designer, who founded his Paris-based interior architecture atelier in 2001 after working as a menswear designer for Pierre Cardin, brings his signature haute couture aesthetic that boasts an understated elegance into many of his designs—including his newly launched furniture brand, Pierre Yovanovitch Mobilier.

Running parallel alongside his interior architecture business, the furniture brand is a much-anticipated cause of celebration. Prior to its debut, one could only own Yovanovitch’s pieces through his collaboration with design gallery R & Company, or by commissioning the designer for an interior project. 

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“Creating custom furniture and lighting works has been an integral part of my design process since starting my practice in 2001. These works started as a way for me to ensure the design elements of a client’s interior were of the highest quality and fit the space perfectly, though the pieces I created quickly evolved into a form of creative expression in and of itself,” says Yovanovitch.

“I felt there was no better time to launch the furniture brand than the present. Apart from being the realisation of a lifelong dream of mine, the launch of the furniture brand is a way for me to bring these designs to the wider public, beyond the context of my interiors and beyond offering these pieces through a gallery.” 

The inaugural collection comprises 45 pieces, which include seating, tables, lighting, and accessories. As per Yovanovitch’s ethos, the design powerhouse worked with some of the finest craftspeople in Europe to produce certain pieces of the collection. A commitment to sustainability is also at the forefront of the designs; the brand uses locally certified and sustainable materials such as natural fibres and local wood wherever possible, whilst adhesives and finishes are kept to a minimum in order to enhance each piece’s durability over time. 

The collection will be presented at the new Pierre Yovanovitch Mobilier showroom space that’s housed in an 18th-century hotel particulier located in Paris’ 2nd arrondissement. Here, Yovanovitch shares more about his creative process and what one can expect from his new furniture brand; the designer also picks out some inspiring decor and art that have caught his eye recently.

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Could you give us a brief overview of your creative design process?

Pierre Yovanovitch (PY) The design process is so deeply personal in many ways. In addition to using my intuition to guide my designs, there is also a large amount of research that goes into every undertaking, both in studying the lifestyle of my client’s and the historical integrity of their property for interiors. For furniture, it's about experimenting with materials and forms until you find the perfect piece. In this way, there is a deep satisfaction that comes with successfully completing any interior or furniture/lighting.

What keeps you inspired?

PY I spend as much time in nature—especially in my garden—as I can. It grounds me and always sparks inspiration.

How do your personal ideals factor into your designs?

PY I try to stay as true to my personal style and vision as possible with all of my designs. This isn’t always easy as there is often compromise to be had with material choices, client’s needs, and more. At the basis of any design project is a sense of poetry and artistry that can only come from a unique vision so it’s important to not be led astray in this sense.

What is one decor trend you’re currently obsessed with?

PY This is not necessarily a trend, but I really value working with artists to create in situ artworks in my interior design projects. It brings so much poetry and a unique story to the space.

I’ve worked with a number of artists, including: Claire Tabouret, who painted the “Les Enfants de la Chapelle” fresco at the Château de Fabrègues in Provence, France. We worked with Matthieu Cossé to create a fresco on the ceiling of Le Coucou Hotel entrance and with Alexandre Rochegaussen who painted a fresco on the ceiling of Hélène Darroze at the Connaught restaurant in London.

What has been the most memorable point in your career thus far?

PY Wow, it’s hard to name one! This launch is up there on the list for me. Of course, the opening of my agency in Paris in 2001 and then the opening of my New York office in 2018 were really big moments.

What are some highlights from Pierre Yovanovitch Mobilier? Do you have a favourite out of the 45 designs?  

PY There are a number of interesting stories to tell about the craft, materiality and design inspiration that went into creating all 45 pieces. Highlights include:

Pierre Yovanovitch Mobilier Clam chair

PY This was a design I came up with which is inspired by an Alice in Wonderland character. I loved this idea of the shape of an opened clam being the perfect silhouette for a chair. To realize this shape out of a solid oak base actually took a substantial amount of time to develop. You wouldn’t realize by looking at the work that it was years in the making, but that’s the beauty of well crafted design. It's aesthetically and functionally an effortless appeal but it’s a labor of love for all involved in its production.

Pierre Yovanovitch Mobilier Flare floor lamp

PY Offered in both bronze and gouged solid wood base, the Flare Lamp features a modern, light-hearted take on a classic silhouette. The mold for the base of this lamp was created by a speciality woodworker, who created a unique wood grain texture in the bronze. The lampshade is available in two versions: a bell shape and the other in the shape of a hot air balloon, reminiscent of the head of the E.T table lamp.

Pierre Yovanovitch Mobilier Hopper chair

PY The Hopper chair is made of meticulously crafted mirror-polished bronze (reminiscent of the texture of gold ingot). The chair is available with and without armrests and in a selection of colors, including rose and khaki.

What are some other decorative pieces and artworks that have caught your eye recently?

Desert Storm by Johan Creten

PY This artwork from Belgian sculptor Johan Creten is in our meeting room at my office in Paris and I adore it. One of my interior design clients was such a big fan of this piece after spotting it at our studio that she bought it herself.

AZO Console by François Bauchet, from KREO Gallery

PY French designer François Bauchet uses a unique composite material made of concrete, sand and resin. I love the clean lines and sensuous biomorphic curves of his work. 

Laverne coffee table by Philip and Kelvin LaVerne

PY A beautiful bronze patina table with a unique shape. I love how their tables strike a balance between modern and traditional, intricate and minimal, art piece and functional item. This piece by the American father-son duo was shown at The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF) in 2021 by Eric Philippe Gallery.

Tommi Parzinger suspension lights, from Eric Philippe Gallery

PY German designer Tommi Parzinger’s suspension lights are rare and poetic.

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