Jonathan Adler: Designer of the Month

12 02 2010

Front and center on Jonathan Adler’s company website:

Our Manifesto

We believe that your home should make you happy.
We believe that when it comes to decorating, the wife is always right.
Unless the husband is gay.
We believe in carbohydrates and to hell with the puffy consequences.
We believe minimalism is a bummer.
We believe handcrafted tchotchkes are life-enhancing.
We believe tassels are the earrings of the home.
We believe in our muses: David Hicks, Alexander Girard,
Bonnie Cashin. Hans Coper, Gio Ponti, Andy Warhol, Leroy Neiman,
Yves Saint Laurent, and Madonna.
We believe in the innate chicness of red with brown.
We believe in being underdressed or overdressed always.
We believe in infantile, happy emblems like butterflies and hearts.
We believe celebrities should pay full price.
We believe in rustic modernism: Big Sur, A-Frame beach houses,
raw beams, and geodesic dome homes.
We believe in Palm Beach style:
Louis chairs, chinoiserie, Lilly Pulitzer, The Breakers circa ’72.
We believe our designs are award winning even though
they’ve never actually won any.
We believe in Aid to Artisans.
We believe dogs should be allowed in stores and restaurants.
We believe in mantiques – suits of armour,
worn chesterfield sofas, heraldic tapestries.
We believe you should throw out your Blackberry
and go pick some actual blackberries.
We believe colors can’t clash.
We believe in blowing your nest egg on our pots.
We believe our lamps will make you look younger and thinner.
We believe in irreverent luxury.

There are several items in this manifesto that speak to me as a designer as well as a consumer.  “We believe that your home should make you happy…We believe in the innate chicness of red with brown…We believe in being underdressed or overdressed always…We believe celebrities should pay full price (doesn’t it make you crazy when they don’t)…We believe that dogs should be allowed into stores and restaurants…We believe colors can’t clash (just check out he’s design of Barbie Malibu pad, you’ll die)…and so on.

Overall it says, if you are interested in what I am about / can offer / my creativity, then come on in–I am sure we will be GRAND friends!!

Jonathan is a potter at heart.  You heard me correct-a potter.  You say, why am I featuring him on an interior design blog as my first ever designer of the month?  Well, he has turned his flair for all things pots into a budding career as a designer for high profile jobs.  I personally like him because he had a humble start, slow-fast rise, and just is a spectacularly fun and flairly (if that is a word) kind of a guy.  He found that he liked doing pottery during his high school years, went on to college to study semiotics and art history, but really never got over his first love of pottery.  When he graduates college in 1988, he tried his hand at a couple careers before realizing in ‘94 he couldn’t stand his job.  So he quits.  The sheer fact that he quit is astounding to me (it takes a lot of guts to quit your job and head into the unknown.)  But quickly he groups, putting together some pieces to show buyers and amazingly gets an order to spend the next couple years pumping out pots for the super store known as Barneys New York!  In 1998, he finally opens a store of his own in Soho, expands in 2001 to LA and today has 12 stores nationwide.  During his high growth years he also expands from ceramic goods into furniture and  starts taking on interior design projects.  Once he is introduced to interiors he also expands his collection to include home goods.  Most recently he has become the lead judge for Bravo’s reality show Top Design and has gotten married to his partner of many years, Simon.

What I really like about him is his wit and how he brings it to his interiors.  His website says, “Your 24 hour a day pot dealer.”  He is selling to a high, high-end clientele and just has a knack for flamboyant abandonment.  When I first saw the Barbie Dream House, I will admit I was a bit shocked.  Pink, orange, red…oh my.  But on closer inspection, it was really well done.  I have attached a couple pictures to feast your eyes upon.

While it is a bit bright, to say the least, it has a lot of really great detailing.  Like the Barbie circular art on the walls (made out of a ton of Barbie dolls), a modern lavender kitchen (first one I have ever seen) and shiny, pleather couches.  And back to the color, what did you expect from Barbie?!

Other work that he has done is more sophisticated perhaps, but just as vibrant.

If you are interested in learning more about Jonathan and his work (I highly suggest that you do) you can pick up a copy of his book, My Perscription for Anti-Depressive Living from which all the prior picture were taken.

I am going to close this post with  his 15 Fabulous Design Tips:

  1. Mix and match with panache. Don’t be tentative with patterns. If you keep your color scheme restrained, you can approach patterns with wild abandon.
  2. When in doubt, repeat, repeat, repeat your patterns.
  3. Don’t fit in. Scale is the most under-considered piece of the decorating puzzle. Put a Gothic throne in a studio apartment.
  4. Paint your floors white. You’ll feel carefree.
  5. Orange is the poppiest color and the answer to most decorating conundrums. Lacquer your front door orange. Pique your neighbor’s curiosity.
  6. Layer, layer, layer. Unexpected touches are the soul of the MAXIMALIST HOME: A painting hung on a bookcase, a chandelier in a closet, a brass lion’s-head door knocker in a modern apartment.
  7. If you’re a clean modernist, try white grass-cloth for a little warmth.
  8. Chocolate brown and baby blue are perfect together. They’re uptown, they’re downtown, they’re classic and fashion forward.
  9. Replace white walls with unexpected neutrals like camel, olive, or baby blue.
  10. Put regal furniture in your bathroom.
  11. When in doubt, add mirrors for extra glamour, put a piece of mirror on top of a cabinet to make it sparkle or in a niche to create the illusion of depth.
  12. Primary colors are happy colors – use them abundantly.
  13. Let go of coordinating colors. Colors can’t clash. However, when in doubt – brown is your foundation. Brown with red is innately chic.
  14. Go for grandeur with a giant chandelier.
  15. Make your own – Personal style means having a space that’s comfy but filled with stuff that has meaning to you. It should hold things created and inspired by passionate people. Personal style should make you happy and happiness is chic.
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