2019 has been a year of triumphs for Paris-based Yovanovitch, who was not only named our Designer of the Year but also published his first monograph, unveiled two landmark hospitality projects, and staged a widely acclaimed gallery show. Pierre Yovanovitch: Interior Architecture, published by Rizzoli, offered a captivating tour of his greatest hits, ranging from the Kering HQ in Paris, to a winery in Portugal’s Douro Valley, a beachfront apartment in Tel Aviv, and of course, the restored 17th century château in Provence that serves as his countryside getaway. It was a testament to his ability to create distinctive forms, imbue every space with warmth and elegance, and more importantly, to elicit excitement and wonder. As the French artist and long-term Yovanovitch collaborator, Claire Tabouret said her foreword, ‘Pierre possesses the Little Prince’s charm and grace’.

The same qualities were evident in Yovanovitch’s renovation of Hélène Darroze at the Connaught, which brought fresh energy into a much-loved London restaurant, and at Le Coucou, his new ski in/ski out hotel in the French alps for budding hospitality group Maisons Pariente. Their disparate settings aside, the two projects share a propensity for specially commissioned pieces, made by (and importantly, credited to) Europe’s finest craftspeople; an embrace of bold colours and rich materials; and that dash of whimsy that is now a Yovanovitch signature. Indeed, it would be no surprise if Yovanovitch’s design becomes as much of a draw as the impeccable food and excellent skiing.

For his most public endeavour of all, the ‘Love’ exhibition at New York’s R & Company, Yovanovitch expanded on the story of Miss Oops - the fictional character first devised for his Design Parade Toulon presentation in 2018. Previously lovelorn, Miss Oops has now discovered romance. Her emotional evolution unfolds as visitors move through her parlour, dining room, boudoir and bedroom, each populated with new Yovanovitch designs. Embroidery, by Lesage Intérieurs plays a defining role – the iconic Mama and Papa bear chairs are seemingly locked in embrace with arms on their upholstery, while cushions and the bedspread are adorned with luscious red lips. There’s a new armchair with a high back suggesting an outstretched tongue, and floor lamps with handblown glass sconces shaped like bosoms, making it crystal clear that love is indeed in the air. In its playfulness and daring, this is a design exhibition like no other - as Yovanovitch has acknowledged, it has ‘pushed me to express my style in bolder ways, to be more singular.’

Installation view of ‘Love’, Pierre Yovanovitch’s solo exhibition at R & Company, New York from November 2019 to January 2020. Photography: Stephen Kent Johnson

The exhibition is but one of the many reasons for spending more time in New York, Yovanovitch’s choice for our Best City category. ‘New York makes you feel like anything is possible,’ he reflects. ‘This feeling of freedom is essential to spurring creativity and, in turn, maintaining a constant flow of creative energy.’ 2020 will see him unveil a collection of penthouses in Manhattan, perched atop the Bjarke Ingels Group-designed The XI towers in west Chelsea. ‘It’s incredible to have my interior design come to life with mesmerising 360 degree views of New York, from the Statue of Liberty to the Hudson River and Empire State Building in the background,’ he says.

Yovanovitch also found affinity with fashion designer Kim Jones, casting his vote for the Dior in the Best men’s fashion collection A/W 2019 category. ‘I find his creative process interesting, particularly his artistic collaborations with Kaws, Raymond Pettibon, and more recently Shawn Stüssy in Miami. It’s a modern approach that allows him to blur the lines between couture and streetwear,’ he comments. ‘In many ways, our work is similar – in that I believe design can be practical, while also being sophisticated and exceptionally crafted.’ §