It’s been three years since WAG last spoke with Jonathan Adler, the genial, charming potter, designer and author who opened his first store in Soho in 1998.
We caught up with him again for our annual home design issue to ask him what’s new in the world of Jonathan Adler, and for a sneak peek of what the year ahead holds.
“For accessories, our Muse pottery — the white pottery with surreal interpretations of body parts — is a favorite. I’ve always treated it as sacred and precious, but last year I decided to deface it. I applied gold graphics — lightning bolts, eyes, swirls — and I love it more than ever. Nothing is too precious to deface.”
The trustees of The Met, or indeed the Louvre, might beg to differ, but Adler is — has always been — his own man. “For furniture, our Reform collection is inspired by the Brutalist architecture of Modernist temples and churches like Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp and Temple Israel in Miami. The original pattern for the doors is sculpted in our pottery studio, then it’s carved onto wooden doors and clad in a sheet of brass, which is hand-hammered and polished. If it sounds labor intensive, it is. And if it sounds fab, it definitely is.”
Fab is an Adler word and so is glamour. The latter is key and should find its way into everybody’s home. And the idea of filling your home with things you love — being brave, being bold, following your own style — is a recurring theme for Adler. What should no home be without? “A chandelier that is bigger than you think you need and more expensive than you think you can afford.”
Just when everyone is throwing everything out, Adler, it seems, takes the view that we need more — well more of the good stuff — good pots, good furniture. Compromise, by contrast, would not strike you as an Adler word, nor does he lay down rules. He believes we live in an “anything goes” world, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. “Our two best-selling scents are Grapefruit and Champagne. I don’t know what that means exactly, but there you go.”
Although he closed his flagship store in New York last year, he still has three stores in the city, as well as a gorgeous emporium in the heart of Chelsea in London, where neighbors include the Conran Shop, housed in the iconic Michelin building opposite. When asked about the future of retail in New York, Adler is forthright. “I wish I knew. I’d be a billionaire.” Instead of worrying though, he says, “I just concentrate on filling (the stores) with things I love and crossing my fingers that other people love them, too.”
Other people seem to. His Now House collection, originally launched with Amazon in 2018, has really taken off and is now available through other retail outlets nationwide, with new product lines constantly being added. A stationery line was launched in the fall of 2019 and a bath collection will launch this spring. Pet products (Adler is a dog-lover) are slated to come on stream this summer.
What is he especially excited about? “Our Pompidou collection is epic — and I promise I’m not biased. The vases pair ’70s-inspired patterns with bold color. The glossy finish adds power-pop glory.”
He still pots, though not necessarily as a way to unwind. “For me, pottery is a swirl of work and creativity. The pottery studio is where I work out all my ideas, but I wouldn’t say it’s relaxing. I wish I could say I had a highbrow way to relax, but the truth is it’s a combo of watching TV, reading and paddle boarding, (though) not all at the same time.”
That might be a stretch, even for the waggish, multitalented Adler. With a punishing work schedule WAG wonders if this consummate professional, who claims he’s insular, ever gets time to travel for pleasure and, if so, where he likes to go.
“The Amangiri in Utah is transcendental. It’s bone-crushingly expensive, but it’s worth it.”
For more, visit jonathanadler.com.