Last week we had the pleasure of corresponding with the incredibly talented purveyor of happy chic himself, Mr. Jonathan Adler. (!!!!) He had contacted us about an item listed on MoS Marketplace, and in the course of our conversation, Jonathan graciously agreed to answer some questions for Matters of Style! I had to ask MoS Washington to pinch me a few times to make sure I wasn't dreaming. Jonathan is a genuinely kind person, and his enthusiasm for creating and designing is contagious.
MoS: You started your design career as a potter. Can you look back and identify that “first big break"?
JA: I’ve had so many unexpected and fabulous breaks along the way. But, I suppose it was getting my first order from Barneys. When I got that order I realized that I could change my occupation from “unemployed” to “Potter.
MoS: What are your favorite sources of inspiration?
JA: Squillions of sources. I am lucky to live in NY and be exposed to so many ideas. I keep my eyes wide open. Believe it or not, I also get lots of ideas when my eyes are closed--I often conceive of designs in my sleep and wake up and scribble them down.
MoS: One of our favorite Adlerisms is, “Minimalism is a bummer.” Is there ever a case where you take a minimalistic approach?
JA: As a decorator I try to be sensitive to my client’s needs and the space, so I’ve had some pretty minimalistic moments. But I strive to make minimalism dynamic by adding a bit of eccentricity.
MoS: What stylish person, dead or alive, would you like to team up with on a project?
JA: I would have loved to work with Bonnie Cashin. I love her work, her color sense, and her spirit. To me, her work is about the joy of creativity.
MoS: You describe orange as a neutral. What is your favorite way to use orange in a room?
JA: I love to use pops of orange in accessories--pillows, lamps, pottery, planters--to add a pop of optimism.
MoS: The question everyone has been dying to ask…. Is Top Design coming back?
JA: Alas, we had a good run, but I think we’re done. It was totally fun, but I’m glad to be able to focus full time on creativity. That is my passion.
MoS: Has the economic recession changed your approach as an artist and designer? How?
JA: The recession was a nightmare, but it was actually kinda’ fab for me as a designer. I became more analytical and rigorous and the harder it was to make people shop, the better my work had to be.
MoS: When designing a room, where do you splurge and where do you save?
JA: There are no hard and fast rules. I may find a sofa on ebay but spend a fortune on a lamp.
MoS: Would you ever use items from “big box stores” to design a room? What are your favorites?
JA: I loooooooooooooooooove Ikea. I use lots and lotsa’ stuff from there. I am also no stranger to Target and Bed Bath and Beyond.
MoS: Can we expect to see a Jonathan Adler for Target collaboration anytime soon?
JA: Nothing planned, but I never say never......
MoS: The new season of Mad Men starts next week, and we can’t help but notice that your aesthetic blends seamlessly with some of the designs on the show, like Pete and Trudy Campbell’s apartment. How do you take elements from the 1960’s and use them in a current way today?
JA: First of all, loooooooove Mad Men. Can’t wait for the first episode. As for using stuff from the 60s, I think the key to any design is to be eclectic, idiosyncratic, and personal. If you love it, it will work.
We'd like to express our sincere appreciation to Jonathan for allowing us to feature him today on Matters of Style. It is truly refreshing when someone with his talent and notoriety is so down-to-earth and genuinely kind. If possible, he has made the MoS girls even bigger fans.