Twenty years after founding his eponymous Paris-based design atelier, Pierre Yovanovich has made his first foray into luxury furniture and lighting. He talks to Ilana Jacobs about the inspirations, challenges, and ambitions for Mobilier
Top-notch interior designers are always in high demand and Pierre Yovanovitch is no exception. With a reputation for precise, well-crafted creations and dynamic takes on interior spaces, the 55-year-old Frenchman has maintained a steady stream of clients for the past two decades. Now, at long last, he’s now offering the same iconic made-to-measure approach and superior craftsmanship from his interior projects in his first furniture and lighting collection.
While Yovanovitch has made plenty of custom pieces and launched two mini-collections, Mobilier is his first full furniture line. Asked what made him decide to finally bite the bullet and design the 45-piece collection, he says, “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 piecesI created quickly evolved into a form of creative expression in and of itself.”
“As this year marks two decades since starting my agency, 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.”
Once he decided to go through with the collection, Yovanovitch had to figure out how to actually do it. “In many ways the design process is quite different than creating custom pieces for an interior project, as you’re not designing to fit the specific needs or daily lifestyle of the client,” he says. “In this way there’s a fair amount of freedom that comes with the designs of the new furniture brand. We found an opportunity to focus more on the story of the individual piece.”
Mass production offered new challenges as well. Yovanovitch had to find a way to ensure the quality of each piece that would carry his name. “Our goal is to offer the same quality, precision and functionality with these pieces as with those custom-made for an interior architecture client,” he says. “In this way, we offer an incredible amount of customisation options for many of our pieces. The trade-off with this level of craft and detail is a certain lead time. Furthermore, as we work with the highest quality, often sustainably sourced materials there are often idiosyncrasies that come with the natural materials we use.”
Finding the up-side to the variations of each piece, he says, “We like to think of these imperfections as a badge of authenticity. Working with these types of materials often takes many iterations of design development. In the case of our new Clam chair, it took two years to perfect the piece to ensure it was as comfortable, strong and as sustainably crafted as possible.”
The Clam chair was a major challenge to get right, but Yovanovitch is happy with the result. “It’s inspired by an Alice in Wonderland character,” he explains. “I loved this idea of the shape of an opened clam being the perfect silhouette for a chair. To realise this shape out of a solid oak base actually took a substantial amount of time to develop. You wouldn’t know it 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 labour of love for all involved in its production.”
Many other designs likewise seem to come from a topsy-turvy world, like the Stanley sofa and Laura lamp. “The Riviera from my childhood and its various landscapes, its artists, its unique historic villas and its light was a big inspiration for me. The Provence that I love, which ‘hides its mysteries behind the obviousness’ (Jean Giono),” Yovanovitch says of his inspirations.
“Also, there’s Northern Europe, where gold, forests, night and colours give life to simple and graceful pieces of furniture. All these worlds and others, from French art deco to American modernism, have built my culture and formed my taste. I’m offering here a furniture line which unveils my passion for craftsmanship, for traditional and innovative techniques, for the visible and invisible, for natural materials.”
Even in the face of Covid-19, Yovanovitch knew what he wanted to accomplish with Mobilier. “Creatively, [the pandemic] didn’t set us back at all. In many ways, it’s reconfirmed my enthusiasm for the launch of the furniture brand,” he says. “With so many people spending more time than ever at home, I feel like there’s a renewed appreciation for our own furniture and lighting as functional objects that we use and live with every day. I hope this means that more people will see the value in opting for high-quality design works as opposed to trendy, low-quality pieces.”