15 October 2014

Robert Couturier "Designing Paradises"

 In the Living Room, the perfect perch for man or beast, looks out over North Spectacle Lake in Kent Connecticut

One of the best interior design books of the season has me fantasizing about who I would have  design rooms for me, IF, and Robert Couturier is one of those few I imagine creating my ideal room. Just one of the sort he has created for himself in his Kent Connecticut home as well as worldwide for his clients. Many are published in his new book  Robert Couturier:Designing Paradises ,written by Couturier and Tim McKeough.

“No matter how big the project, I always aim to bring a sense of levity to the design process. I value lasting friendships and crackling conversations far above any ostentatious displays of wealth.”(RC) This philosophy epitomizes his work and success.

His home's living room with seventeen foot ceilings, epitomizes Couturier's mastery at bringing a melange of periods together with relaxed quiet.

"There's one element from my childhood homes that I tried to re-create here- 
the smell of dust, humid ashes, and old-fashioned perfume." Robert Couturier, Designing Paradises

a spot on the landing in Couturier's home

Couturier's childhood reads like lost chapters in Saint-Exupéry's Le Petit Prince: "In every room of my childhood homes, I had favorite hiding places where I soaked up the atmosphere...I developed personal relationships with three-drawer commodes tombeaux, graceful Louis XV fauteuils en cabriolet...I could retrace the provenance of each piece from its creation to its current state."

The book's cover showcases what makes Robert Couturier such a favorite of mine. George Jacob armchairs, a Louis XV table, and a salvaged verdigris mirror reflecting a 7th century Cambodian sculpture of Harihara, reveals Couturier's consummate & discerning eye. A hybrid deity, Harihara, is the embodiment of both the Hindu gods Shiva & Vishnu. Little differentiation of the two gods appear in this uniquely 7th century Cambodian hybrid. (According to the Metropolitan, "the Khmer conception of Harihara differentiated the two deities only in the partition of the headdress into a combined jatamukuta-miter and in the provision of half of a third eye on Shiva’s side.")  The subtle differences in the gods' depiction are lost in Couturier's fragmented sculpture, much like his design aesthetic.

His genius is in melding quite distinctly different design periods, reimagining them together in paradisaical harmony. He does so impeccably.

 In Connecticut, a distinctly Early American bedroom, in fact, holds a bergere, & Herve Van der Straeten goatskin bench.

A client's Fifth Avenue apartment, another hybrid, makes clear Couturier's adroitness. The chandelier evinces the 18th century, but upon close observation it is a very modern take on the like by Herve Van der Straeten. Its organic form entwines irregular diamond shaped crystals terminating in a knot of bronze. A Claude Lalanne Croco console & Vosges sconces impose their 20th century elan on the 18th century styled boiseries and parquet de Versailles floors.
It's a heady mix.

Caroline Weber, friend & client, borrows from Baudelaire in defining Couturier's discerning interiors- "luxe, calme et volupte" (luxury, tranquility, sensuous delight). In contrast Baudelaire also writes " "tout ce qui plaît a une raison de plaire,"(everything that gives pleasure has its reason.)  Robert Couturier manages both in "designing paradises.": "Homes should reflect the way a homeowner wants to live every day, not serve as a showcase to impress guests. My job is to help people dream, to make those dreams a reality, and to transform abstract ideas into concrete creations." (RC)

Robert Couturier: Designing Paradises, Principal photography by Tim Street-Porter.
Rizzoli Publishers kindly gave me a copy of this book.


09 October 2014

autumn interlude

after a week spent in the mountains of TN preparing for my niece's wedding, I believe... 
painting by British artist, Charles Nash, "Berkshire Downs," 1922.

24 September 2014

Goodbye to all that

"Autumn has caught us in our summer wear." - Philip Larkin

 Carol McCarlson on the beach in St. Augustine, Florida,
by Frances McLaughlin-Gill for American Vogue, 1948.

  the autumnal equinox brings the fall season to the Northern Hemisphere September 22 at 10:29 P.M. EDT. 

18 September 2014


Schumacher is celebration 125 years in Design.
I'm impressed with some of their offerings accompanying this milestone.

With great style, Schumacher's ad campaign embodies what makes a 125 year old company so relevant in a world of textile design house takeovers-consolidations and closures.

Boughton House, from a circa-1870 fragment of fine cotton in the company's archives.

Shock Wave, crafted in Italy at one of the finest silk mills in the world.

Iconic Leopard returns from the 1970's when Schumacher first ran the pattern.

Les Gazelles Au Bois, by artist Pierre Pozier, nephew of Schumacher founder, c.1927.

Citrus Garden, an archival print designed for Schumacher in 1947 by Josef Frank.

Happy Birthday Schumacher!


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