The Aesthete: Pierre Yovanovitch talks more personal taste

The interior architect concludes his list of likes with stylish Swiss napkins, perfect Portugese soaps and fabulous French owls

Pierre Yovanovitch at home in Paris
Pierre Yovanovitch at home in Paris | Image: Emmanuel Fradin

My style icon is Pierre Cardin. I’ve had the privilege of working with Pierre, who is now 96, and consider him to be a visionary with a distinct personal style. He is a genius of fashion design and a true architect of clothing. His choice of construction and volumes, colours and materials created clothing that has remained contemporary – and this is reflected in his own sense of style, right down to his bold eye glasses.

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Marfa, Texas, a city with a 1950s ambience. It’s literally in the middle of nowhere and the landscape and light are stunning. I was particularly taken with Donald Judd’s Chinati Foundation, where you see art in the context of such a massive campus; it’s easy to see why the artist left New York for this beautiful part of the world. The Hotel Saint George, where I stayed, is almost a museum itself, with its collection of art that includes Christopher Wool and Mark Flood. Chinati Foundation, 1 Cavalry Row, Marfa, Texas, TX 79843 (+1432-729 4362; chinati.org.). Hotel Saint George, 105 South Highland Avenue, Marfa, Texas, TX 79843 (+1432-729 3700; marfasaintgeorge.com).

Pierre Cardin, Yovanovitch’s style icon
Pierre Cardin, Yovanovitch’s style icon | Image: Alamy

The best souvenir I’ve brought home recently is a set of handmade, silk-trimmed, pale-beige and yellow napkins from Vals, Switzerland. I was there to visit the 7132 Therme & Spa and found these very neutral napkins – which look beautiful on my table in my château in the Haut-Var, Provence – in a small shop. It was a perfect surprise; the town is so small that I didn’t expect to find anything like that when I was walking around. 7132 Therme & Spa, 7132 Vals, Switzerland (+4158-713 2010; 7132therme.com). 

The last meal that truly impressed me was a dinner at Claude Colliot in the Marais. The chef at this understated restaurant is very good with vegetables, aromatic herbs and fruit desserts that follow the seasons. The space is simple too – very spare and dark-lit – and is perfect for a dinner with friends. 40 Rue des Blancs-Manteaux, 75004 Paris (+331-4271 5545; claudecolliot.com).

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The best gift I’ve given recently was a unique ceramic vase by the French artist Roger Capron. This colourful piece was a thank-you present for Jean-Pierre Blanc, the director of Villa Noailles, for choosing me to help with last year’s Design Parade events in the south of France.

The last music I downloaded was Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle, a cinematic work with a real narrative, conducted by Pierre Boulez. Music is a huge part of my life – it focuses me and gets my creative juices flowing – and this has been an excellent addition to my running playlist.

“Judd cubes” by the late Donald Judd at his Chinati Foundation, Texas
“Judd cubes” by the late Donald Judd at his Chinati Foundation, Texas | Image: Carol M Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images

A recent “find” is Benetos, a traditional fish restaurant in Patmos, Greece, where I spent time last summer. It’s set on the Sapsila inlet, overlooking the Aegean Sea, and the vegetables come straight from their garden, so everything is fresh and light. Sapsila, Patmos, Greece (+3022470-33089; benetosrestaurant.com).

An indulgence I would never forgo is travelling with a friend in his private helicopter. He comes to Provence and takes me to remote, beautiful places that I might not otherwise discover.  Last summer we went to a restaurant called Le Christiana-Chez Huguette in the middle of wild countryside in the village of Andon. Both the food  – especially the grilled vegetables and local cheeses – and the atmosphere were amazing. 218 Place de l’Audibergue, 06750 Andon (+334-9360 4541).

Soaps by Claus Porto, from €8
Soaps by Claus Porto, from €8

If I didn’t live in Paris, the city I would live in is New York without a doubt. I’m never tired in New York, not even with jet lag. I love the energy, the architecture of the Upper East Side and the easy access to Central Park. Downtown, I love the Judd Foundation in SoHo for its serene gallery setting, while The Mark hotel has long been a convenient home base for me. The Neue Galerie is a favourite museum: the building and the collection are both stunning. Judd Foundation, 101 Spring Street, New York, NY 10012 (+1212-219 2747; juddfoundation.org). The Mark, 25 East 77th Street, New York, NY 10075 (+1212-744 4300; themarkhotel.com). Neue Galerie, 1048 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10028 (+1212-628 6200; neuegalerie.org).

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Thomas Schütte. He is a contemporary German artist I discovered at a recent exhibition at the Beyeler Foundation, near Basel. His paintings of architecture are particularly wonderful, and they’ve recently become very sought after. fondationbeyeler.ch. thomas-schuette.de.

H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

The grooming staple I’m never without is soap by Portugal’s Claus Porto. I love the paper packaging and bars in scents of lavender, orange amber and acacia. From €8; clausporto.com.

The last book I read was H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. It’s the author’s story of losing her father and how, through her love of nature and animals, she copes with her grief and rage. This book raises a lot of questions about who we are, loss in general and why animals provide such comfort.

Yovanovitch’s 1960s painted ceramic owl, Choupette
Yovanovitch’s 1960s painted ceramic owl, Choupette | Image: Emmanuel Fradin

In my fridge you’ll always find Coke Zero – and nothing else. My friends find the state of my refrigerator quite sad, but I never eat at home, so it makes no sense to stock it.

An object I would never part with is Choupette, a painted ceramic owl made in the Vallauris region of France in the 1960s that I purchased in Nice about 20 years ago. I love the material and the fact that it was made during a period of great creativity, and as I’m from the south of France, it awakens childhood memories for me. It was the first in what has since become a collection of owls. I now pick them up wherever I go, and people bring them to my château as gifts.

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If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a gardener. Being outside allows me to dream and to get lost in nature. I find it very therapeutic. And by spending time in the garden, you really come to understand the changing seasons and the effects of global warming.

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