Star Architect Robert Couturier shows LD what living in Paradise is like
FEBRUARY 16, 2018
Interview & Photography by Dune Chambaud
As I took the train from Manhatten’s Grand Central station for two scenic hours on my way to visit the legendary master of interior design, the carriage gradually emptied until I stepped onto the platform of my destination: Kent, Connecticut. Arriving at the palatial grounds that Robert Couturier shares with his partner, Jeffrey Morgan, and his five adorable Shih Tzus, the neo-classical residence exudes 18th Century New England and the stately houses by which it was inspired.
Couturier is famous for creating and decorating some of the world’s most prestigious homes in his signature lavish grandeur – and his own home is no exception. The 16-acre estate features a forest of oak and hemlock overlooking its very own lake, and a custom French boxwood garden where his Shih Tzus have free rein.
Pulling back the curtains to peek inside is a marvel in itself – the drapes’ decadent red embroidered fabric was made-to-measure for Couturier from the oldest French embroidery house, Lesage, and based on a parsley print he discovered in a book during travels through India. The curtains hang in his exquisite Orangerie dining room, an homage to his home country and his darling Shih Tzu, Dora, is perched on a genuine Marie Antoinette armchair as Couturier admits his taste today still gravitates to French: formal and sumptuous.
After an exceptional meal with one of the most decadently delicious soufflé au fromage and perfectly chilled champagne, I floated away from the perfect afternoon truly understanding #thereisnoplacelikeRobertshome and, moreover, #thereisnoonelikeRobert.
How did you and your dogs meet for the first time?
It varies! When we got them from our breeder they were brought to us and that was that, we were not given a choice and we fell in love with them the minute we saw them!! We got Dora from the ASPCA where we went to meet her and there we fell in love with her at first sight. As for Zadok, we were sent a photo of this little Shih Tzu rescued from a dog meat farm in Korea and we fell in love with his image, and we could not say no, so he was sent to us and slipped into our house and pack without a glitch!! As if he had always been there!
How did you pick their names?
Instinctively... no particular thought given to them, we looked at the photo sent by either the breeder or the rescue organization and we dreamt up the name! Each name seems to suit to perfection...
What made you choose your dog’s particular breed?
I have always adored that particular breed, I love their personalities their looks, I bought the first pair in 1990 I must confess, from a pet shop, and these two, Chuck and Lily, were the loves of my life, their intelligence curiosity and inexhaustible love made them essential to me... Jeffrey who never had one let himself be persuaded, so from a pair we went to three and now we have five... and we love them equally as passionately.
Who takes care of your dogs when you’re not around?
They live with Jeffrey, my husband, during the week, I am overwhelmed with joy when I see them on Friday and by sadness when I leave them on Monday. When Jeffrey and I are away one of our staff moves in, they are never left alone or outside unguarded!!
Do your dogs ever get lost in your magnificent labyrinth gardens?
Never, they never leave my side...
If you could add more pets to your family, what would they be?
I have begged Jeffrey for fancy chickens, peahens, peacocks, doves, donkeys, goats and sheep to no avail ... I am condemned to only having Shih Tzus and of course I could have many many more but five of them is truly Jeffrey's limit!!
What do you and your dogs share in common?
I wish I was as good and loving and faithful as they are! We all love to stay in bed all day...
What is your dogs idea of happiness?
To be all together piled up on top of me on a sofa, or running around together in the gardens!
If you could describe your dogs personalities in threewords, what would it be?
Love, love and love.
Of course also playful and intelligent and curious ....
"We picked their names instinctively... we looked at the photo sent by either the breeder or the rescue organization and we dreamt up the name!
Each name seems to suit to perfection..."
Which designer would your dog be?
The girls would be Sister Parish and the boys completely uninterested!!!!
What’s their favorite treat?
Milkbones, they go crazy for them, and bananas!! They also love a bit of egg yoke!
An incredibly manky blue ball,
And a friend of ours gave us antlers that they collect from the fallow deer they raise in their land, and the dogs absolutely love them they gnaw at them with delight but fight over the same one, they always want what the other has....
Favorite place to snooze?
By our sides, the five of them settle in between Jeffrey and I in front of the fire and it is complete HEAVEN!!
Most expensive object your dogs destroyed?
Plenty but who cares really...
What’s your dogs beauty routine?
They get groomed every other week and go to the groomer for the day, and we, ourselves or one of the housekeepers, brush them everyday, quite carefully or they get horribly knotted!! Surprisingly, the shampoo that their skin and hair responds best to is Santa Maria Novella Sandalwood ....
If one of your Shih Tzu girls was a famous singer,
who would she be?
Did you teach your dogs any canine etiquette?
No... except being almost perfectly house trained and not begging at the table. Truth be told they can climb on anything and sit wherever they want, they are naturally kind and sweet...
Do you follow any famous pets on Instagram?
Wolfgang2242 which is absolutely wonderful, you must check!! It is a man with the soul of an angel who rescues older dogs of all sorts of breeds and sizes. He also has a pig called Bikini, a couple of hens and a rabbit... Always brings tears to my eyes.
And 'Kaenorman' who also tirelessly saves abandoned small dogs... she also has the heart of a Saint!!!
In what way does this relationship affect your life?
Very simply, in more than one way they make my life better! Dogs in particular, animals in general, make us better people, less egotistical, less self centered. They make us generous thoughtful and kind... at least they make me that!!
Thing you love most to do with your dog?
If you were a dog, which kind would you be?
A Shih Tzu of course!!!