Tuesday, September 9

Profile: Jonathan Adler

Jonathan Adler, the darling of home accessories, personifies taste, style and creativity. He has long been celebrated for his use of vibrant colors and his work is often described as "happy" or "happy chic". And, while both statements are true, I don’t think it accurately depicts the extraordinarily creative mind behind the persona.

Jonathan began his pottery career in the summer of 1978 at summer camp and begged his parents to buy him a wheel and kiln. Lucky for us they indulged their son’s request. It’s almost impossible to imagine that a pottery professor once told him that he had no talent and should consider another career. Thankfully he did not heed the advice and went on to craft beautiful, yet playful, luxury items and ultimately a thriving interior design business.

Interior designer Bill Sofield once declared, "Jonathan Adler does for American pottery what Noel Coward did for cocktail parties—he makes life witty, sophisticated, and simply delicious." I don’t think I could have said it any better!

What is your most prized possession
I suppose I’m not really allowed to call my bloke Simon or my Norwich terrier Liberace possessions (am I?) So, I guess I gotta' go with my potter's wheel -- I am, first and foremost, a potter.

Who are your style icons?
Some of my influences are obvious -- the grooviness of California living, nature, my parents (My dad had a rigorously modernist aesthetic and my mom has a much more colorful and exuberant spirit and I think my aesthetic is a true fusion of theirs). Also, I keep coming back to California design from the mid-century. Eames, Bonnie Cashin, and Alexander Girard --their work was all about color and optimism.

Name one thing people would be surprised to learn about you
I play ping pong to relax and actively encourage everyone and anyone to run out and buy a ping pong table. Nothing is better after a long day at work than coming home and batting around a ping pong ball with (or, to be more honest, at) your better half.

How would you describe your personal style?
Personal style means walking in the front door of my home and feeling happy. Personal style means having a space that's very comfy but that is filled with stuff that has personal meaning and created by passionate people.

My company's motto is "If your heirs won't fight over it, we won't make it". I strive to make things that people will love and hold onto for future generations.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
In my book, "My Prescription for Anti-Depressive Living", I exhort my readers to liberate their Inner Hippies by embracing rustic modern style. I think we should all connect to Mother Nature through organic forms, rich textures and earthy colors. This ain't a trend per se, but it's definitely a formula for earthy happiness and Bohemian Bliss.

Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan. Photo by Drew Altizer

Past or present what designers have influenced you and in what ways?
My favorite design mind belongs to my better half, Simon Doonan. Simon is the creative director and window designer of Barneys and his work is always incredible. I also love Fred Stelle's architecture, and I totally dig Phineas Cole, the trendy new menswear collection from Paul Stuart.

What is your greatest accomplishment to date
My greatest accomplishment is that I’ve successfully avoided having a job! When I was in my early twenties and I thought I had to have a proper career instead of pursuing my passion for pottery, I had a series of jobs in the movie business and I was a terrible employee and I got fired from job after job. I decided that I wasn't cut out for a normal career and I vowed never to have a job again and I accomplished that!

Profile by Ronda Carman


Anonymous said...

Wow Ronda - SCORE!! What a great profile. His style is AMAZING!!

Anonymous said...

Wow - what a fun personality he has.

I have to hand it to you Ronda. Your profiles are just a pleasure to read. They are just the right length for a blog - they give us unique insights into the people you profile but in a bite-sized chunk.

Please keep them up and give us MORE! I can't wait to see who else you have in the wings!

ALL THE BEST said...

Thanks Anne. I think his style is pretty amazing too! He has a great eye for design.

ALL THE BEST said...

Thank you anonymous that's very kind of you to say so! More to come...I promise!

Laura said...

Great interview! Fabulous and fun is a great combo--and he is it!

ALL THE BEST said...

Thanks Laura! He IS it!

porter hovey said...

LOVE Jonathan Adler!

ALL THE BEST said...

I me too Porter. He's brilliant!

katiedid said...

As much as I have read about Jonathan, you gave me a little more! What I like most about him is his love for life and his optimism. I would love to have that feeling of "not having a job"! Great profile.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I,too, love Jonathan Adler.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I love his company motto! Brilliant!

Unknown said...

What a coup, Ronda! I love Jonathan. His aesthetic is so fresh and original.I like that he doesn't seem to take himself too seriously.

The Green Zebra Studio said...

I just discovered your blog and will have to include it in my bookmarks.

You have wonderful interviews and very interesting subjects.

Love J.A.'s company motto. That's a good work motto to live by.

cotedetexas said...

Simply fabu!


Anonymous said...

He is the BEST!

Anonymous said...


Visual Vamp said...

Well, Heeeeere's Jonny!
Great little piece!
But he forget to mention Mrs. Goldstein (page 25 in his book).
Jonathan Adler pulled me out of my post Katrina depression, and I will always love him for that.
He is an original and huge talent, often unfairly slighted for worshipping his muses (as he puts it).
He and Simon and Liberace are great role models for family life.

Rebecca Corvese said...

What a great interview. I love Jonathan Adler and his free spirit! Great blog!

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

eek, you have done it again, Ronda!!! Incredible!!! I loved the part about ping pong the best:)