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Pierre Yovanovitch: Love Is In the Air 

Dec 17, 2020

TLmag sat down with Pierre Yovanovitch to talk about his practice as architect and his project La Casa de Quinta da Côrte.

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Moving between Paris, Provence and, increasingly, New York and the USA, Pierre Yovanovitch is more than a man who travels and designs projects with his amazing team: he is also a signature. His first monograph has just been published by Rizzoli Publications. With a charisma reminiscent of Yves Saint Laurent, he explores the intricacies of architectural and artistic design with a freedom unique to himself.  Flying in the face of the prevailing fashion, he cultivates his own codes and universe, fostering the art and craft of design to create intimate moments with, for example, Mme Oops for Design Parade in Toulon and R & Company in New York, or the hotel Coucou in Meribel, which will open its doors in December, with its distant echo of Charlotte Perriand. A look back at another of his projects, La Casa de Quinta da Côrte, with its echoes of his Provencal chateau. Here, he takes another look at his progression, an ‘opera d’arte’ like no other.

TLmag: What was your experience as architect for La Casa de Quinta da Côrte? Was it very different compared to a personal undertaking such as your chateau in Fabrègues?

Pierre Yovanovitch (PY): It wasn’t so different from the Château de Fabrègues, because I designed the Casa as a family home. In fact, that was Philippe Austruy’s brief: to design a place to be like a house that has evolved over the years. He wanted visitors to feel “at home”, free to walk around and enjoy the large kitchen in azulejos tilework, the library in terracotta tones, or the smoking room. Beyond the rooms, I designed the common areas to be warm places to meet.

TLmag: From one project to another, each with its own scale, what new adventure do you aspire to take on? I see you meddling more and more in the world of furniture and object design. Is what you find or design for your clients no longer enough for you? Is art becoming more pervasive? What are you seeking?

P.Y.:  I am presenting my new furniture exhibition, called ‘Love’, at the R & Company gallery in New York, from 6 November 2019 through 5 January 2020. I developed more than 20 new items of furniture for the occasion. I very much enjoyed this venture, and want to repeat it in the future. Designing furniture as part of an exhibition allows you to move beyond the basic functionality of the items, to shift between art and design. I stage and design my exhibitions as real stories. I designed an apartment from the living room, to the dining room, to the bedroom, with each room showing the romance of Mme Oops (the imaginary character created as part of my exhibit for the Festival Design Parade in Toulon in 2018). It is a strong inclination that provides me with immense freedom and amusement.

TLmag: Quinta da Côrte is set in the majestic landscape of the Douro valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. How do you find a balance between the architecture and the natural setting of old vines? Can you describe how the context of the expertise in Porto influenced the design of your Casa project and this magnificent architectural concept of the winery?

P.Y.: For Philippe Austruy and myself, it was important to preserve the regional character of the Quinta da Côrte and to ensure that the rest of the property reflects the history of the residence and the region. The Douro valley and its historical elements are at the heart of the project, both from the point of view of design – which is reflected in La Casa – and of its influence on the wine market, which is clearly represented by the winery. We wanted the two structures to improve the visitors’ stay by paying tribute to the surrounding vineyards and reflecting the traditional elements of the regional culture.

This project gave me the opportunity to design and construct a building, which is rare for an interior designer. I wanted a somber wine storehouse, using local materials in a contemporary language and offering panoramic windows over the river and the vineyards. Inside, the monastical design of the bottle cellar with its cross-vaults evokes a spirituality linked to an attachment to the land, to the community, and to the alliance of man with nature. This seemed natural to me in a place where wine is born. During construction, it was necessary to dig 20 meters into the rock. As is often the case in my work, the stairway tiled in azulejos is the backbone of the building.

TLmag: Do you have other projects in the same spirit as the Quinta da Côrte, which combines architecture, art and nature?

P.Y.:  I would love to design another new building; that will come. Currently, my projects involve interior design. I am now putting the final touches on the hotel Coucou in Meribel, which will open its doors in December. Perched high in the Belvedere, at the foot of the Rond-Point of the ski runs, the Coucou is set in one of the most beautiful sites. It offers breathtaking views of the snow-capped summits and looms over the entire valley. I worked on the openings and perspectives to enhance the beauty of the surrounding landscape, while pl aying with alpine codes in the decoration. In particular, I developed nearly 160 items of furniture especially for this site, some of which give a playful wink to the universe of skiing. The family that owns the site collects art, which let me give free rein to my wishes and allowed us to often involve these works ‘in situ’ within the project. In Fabrègues, my own home, I continue to explore these links.

TLmag: If you could jump forward 10 years, what would be your final project? I know this isn’t an easy question to answer, but I imagine you must have thought up a few possible scenarios.

P.Y.: I absolutely do not think about my final project, there are still so many things to accomplish before then. Along the way, I would like to create the scenography for an opera from the 20th century repertoire. I believe I have a certain legitimacy in this domain that I know and particularly love. If I had to mention a few of the works, they could include ‘Bluebeard’s Castle’ by Béla Bartók, ‘Erwartung’ by Arnold Schönberg, ‘The Human Voice’ by Francis Poulenc, etc.

‘Love’, solo show, R & Company, 64 White Street, New York, US, 3.112019 – 5.1.2020.

This article is republished from TLmag 32.

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