Five minutes with Jonathan Adler


Five minutes with Jonathan Adler

The iconic potter and designer lets us into his head – and his home

By Sonam Savlani  March 6th, 2014

Jonathan Adler has built an empire of stores across the world with popping prints, jewel-bright colours and quirky home accessories. We dare you to check out his web-store and not be tempted to buy everything on it. We caught up with the designer.  

ELLE: When did you get interested in pottery?

JONATHAN ADLER: I was 12 when I went to summer camp and tried pottery for the first time. The moment I touched clay I felt a connection and knew that I wanted to be a potter. 

ELLE: But you worked in the movie business for a while. How did that happen? 

JA: My pottery professor in college told me that I didn’t have what it takes for a career in pottery. I listened to her, moved to New York, and worked in the film industry. I hated it, was no good at it, and got fired from one job after another. It was then that I decided take time to do what I loved; the rest of my career has been an amazingly improbable adventure. I think every creative person needs someone to rebel against.

ELLE: Could you share your earliest design memories? 

JA: I was fortunate to have very creative parents, and the home I grew up in was a perfect expression of who I am today. It was a very groovy, modernist house with rigorously chic furniture. My dad was minimalist modernist, and my mom had a sense of ebullience and a love of colour. It was a reflection of my style, craft, and design philosophy.

ELLE: What are your guidelines to follow when designing a space?

JA: Start with a bold rug as a foundation, and you won’t look back.

Always buy a chandelier that is bigger than you think you need and more expensive than you think you can afford. Colour, colour, colour.

ELLE: What’s on your mood board at the moment?

JA: I’m rediscovering my love for Cycladic art. The sculptures are minimalist, rigorous, and convey so much with an efficiency of line that is inspiring.

ELLE: What’s your idea of a dream home?

JA: My hubby Simon and I recently built our dream home on Shelter Island. My idea of a dream home is a place filled with the people you love where you can escape to do the things you love. And proximity to water so I can paddleboard is a must.