As you might expect of Wallpaper’s Designer of the Year, Pierre Yovanovitch has had a busy 12 months. Besides chairing the jury for the third International Festival of Interior Architecture in Toulon, including his masterful curation of L’Erotonomanie de Mademoiselle Oops, Yovanovitch has completed residences in London, Brussels, Paris and Tel Aviv, too. Sitting out the drearier days of winter, it is the latter that we are particularly enamoured of.

The 200 sq m apartment, on the 16th floor of a new residential tower in the south of Tel Aviv, is a fantasy seaside city escape. The owners are a French couple working in fashion (return clients of Yovanovitch), and you sense they’ve had fun creating something bold together. ‘A second project means more trust,’ explains Yovanovitch, ‘hence the possibility to make bolder proposals. The client is a fairly radical personality, yet the result here is more radical than our previous work. The main reason is Tel Aviv: if one is not going to be bold in Tel Aviv, where can one possibly be bold?’

Pierre Yovanovitch Tel Aviv terrace

The seaside apartment offers interior delights and calming water views. Photography: Jérôme Galland

Yovanovitch took on the project before the building was completed and remodelled the layout to suit the practical needs of his clients. This meant opening up the floorplan to create a generous kitchen, dining and living area, with two en suite bedrooms, all connected by a 16-metre long corridor. Curtain windows look out over the beach and the sea on one side and the city on another. Linen curtains diffuse the intense light, creating an ethereal atmosphere throughout, which is grounded by Yovanovitch’s deft and generous use of natural materials.

‘We wanted to add rawness and roughness,’ he explains, pointing to the grey Ceppo stone flooring and the shockingly red travertine wall that lines the corridor. ‘I always look for texture, and increasingly, colour. These two components allow one to draw simple, rigorous lines and achieve a striking result. I used stone, wood, ceramic – raw materials with personality.’ A subtle warmth is evident in the handcraft that Yovanovitch accentuates in his approach, particularly in the custom elements his studio designed: the carved oak headboard, a circular chestnut sofa, a pivoting wall lamp and ceramic petal sconces.

Yovanovitch is a particularly courageous curator. His custom designs are interspersed with exquisite midcentury pieces spanning Italy, France, Scandinavia and the US, by Ponti, Perriand, Ditzel, Tynell and Nakashima, to name a handful. They reinforce the warmth of craft and the texture of time through their patina. A striking wall piece by German artist Imi Knoebel animates the dining area, while custom hand-knotted rugs add pools of softness underfoot.

There is a confidence in Yovanovitch’s playfulness, which makes for wonderfully light-hearted interiors that are simultaneously robust and enigmatic. Porky Hefer’s woven nest, comically perched on legs between the dining table and the balcony, is a case in point. And yet this is no gimmick; Yovanovitch’s genius lies in rooting everything carefully and poetically in the human experience. ‘When you lie in the nest after a meal and fall asleep,’ he explains, ‘you wake up and see only the sky and the sea from your perch.’ §