My oldest son is a senior in high school and we've spent a good little bit of time this year working on college applications. He wants to be an architect, and even as we have sat across from deans and talked to people who work in the field who tell him about the hours and the money, he is undeterred.
"Don't do it because you think I want you to," I told him. He assured me he is not, but I worried.
As he was putting together his portfolio, I watched as he scanned and uploaded. (I was encouraged, too, that all the schools to which he applied preferred hand drawings to CAD.)
Generally, he draws elevations and then corresponding floor plans. Sometimes, he includes furniture designs. I can't pretend that I would be able to evaluate a portfolio or that I am in any way unbiased, but one "project" caught my eye.
"Have you been in a house like this?" I asked him, holding out a piece of notebook paper, the edge ruffled where it had been torn from the spiral. The penciled marks were dark and sure.
He looked up at me from the bamboo chair at my wicker desk, so clearly a man in a woman's spot.
"No. I dream about being in buildings and then I get up in the night and draw them." He looked back to the computer screen to check the progress of his upload. "Do you do that?"
I looked back to the drawing in my hand, noticing the faint lines that had been erased to adjust the width of the garage and the seat height of a chair. "No. I do not do that."
Many creative people find their passion at a young age. Robert Couturier recounts in his book how he developed "personal relationships" with antiques growing up in his home in France. He became a decorator against his grandmother's wishes. ("You weren't supposed to be somebody who was going to work for somebody else," he recalls.) I've always admired Couturier for his combination of classic design and fearless incorporation of modern art, lighting and furniture. He plays with scale and color in a way that always inspires me. Couturier forces me to open my mind.
His new book, Robert Couturier: Designing Paradises, contains a thorough catalogue of his house and many favorite projects. You can find it here.
All images courtesy of Rizzoli International; images Tim Street-Porter.