Jonathan Adler is known for his individual take on American country club style but he started out as a potter, launching his first collection at Barneys department store, New York, in 1993. He followed up with a textiles range and opened his first shop in SoHo, Manhattan, in 1998. Since then he has opened up more than 30 stores and worked on residential projects, including Abington House by New York’s High Line and hotels such as the Parker Palm Springs and the Eau Palm Beach, in California and Florida, respectively. He also designed a Malibu Dream House in California in 2009 to mark 50 years of Barbie, the fashion doll.
How did you come to start in design? Were you always drawn to aesthetics?
I was fortunate to have super-creative parents. My father was a lawyer who spent every spare moment painting, and my mother’s ebullient sense of colour continues to inspire me. I studied at Brown [University in Rhode Island, US], but I spent as much time as I could at the nearby Rhode Island School of Design, potting.
When did you start making pots?
I started at summer camp when I was 12. I wish I could say it was because I felt the siren call of pottery, but the truth is that I thought the instructor was cute. But from the moment I touched clay, it was right. I felt a connection.
How would you characterise your style?
Three words: Modern. American. Glamour.
What has been your favourite project?
Inevitably, my most recent project is always my favourite project. That said, the Parker Palm Springs has been pretty epic.
What is the secret to confidence when styling an interior?
Forget about so-called rules. If you love it, it will work. The first thing I look at when I enter a room is lighting. Whenever I’ve skimped on lighting I’ve lived to regret it.
If you weren’t allowed, who would design your home for you?
I would bring back David Hicks and let him do anything he wanted to.
What is the one object you would never allow in your home?
Taxidermied anything. Although my husband’s so cute, I might taxidermy him if he kicks the bucket before me.
What is the strangest request you have had?
I wish I could say I had some outré story about being asked to design a dungeon or something, but . . . I don’t. The truth is, people just want a glamorous home.
What do you look for in a client?
I’m very lucky that clients look for me and that all of my clients are lovely and creative people.
What do you start with when designing a room?
The client. I like to get to know my clients, figure out their style — it might be Seventies glam, or Palm Beach chic, or organic modern — then create a space that reflects them at their most glamorous and eccentric. I see myself as a slimming mirror for my clients.
What do you feel makes a room complete?
A dog — a real one! And an obelisk.
How does your pottery inform the rest of your design work?
Everything I make starts in the pottery studio — it’s where I work out all my ideas.
What colour do you find yourself most drawn to?
Red, white and blue.
Less is more, or more is more?
I’m a minimalist product designer but a maximalist interior designer, so both. When I’m designing an object, I spend as much time as I can stripping it away to just its essential form. I try to communicate as much as I can with an economy of gesture. When I design a space, I generally think: more, more, more.
What would you say is the main trend in interiors at the moment?
There are a squillion trends. We live in an “anything-goes” world, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Photographs: Maura McEvoy; uk.jonathanadler.com