Jonathan Adler needs no introduction. The designer, potter, author and personality has been bringing effortless style to all of our homes for two decades now. We chatted with Adler on everything from what three things bring a room together, to who between him and his husband (Simon Doonan) does the cooking, all the way to his lifelong mission to have a drink named after him (NYC restaurants, take note)…
From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
My ideal food day would begin with a scrumptious hotel buffet breakfast, which is always a multi-course extravaganza involving a fruit course, a bacon and egg course, and a dessert course. Lunch would be a bit more chic and ‘classique’ – perhaps a chicken paillard. I know it sounds ascetic but I can’t handle a mid-day food hangover. There would most definitely be a mid-afternoon snack involving something in the cookie or muffin family. For dinner, I have to be honest – my favorite meal is Thanksgiving dinner.
If you must know the truth, I get very depressed when meals end. You know how the French call an orgasm a petite mort (a little death)? For me, the end of a meal is a petite mort.
Three home decor items that always bring a room together…
1. Tiny tables: Tiny tables should be peppered throughout a room and should feel very intuitive. When you’re sitting in a chair you should be able to reach out and immediately be able to find a tiny table to place your cocktail on. They add a fab final layer.
2. Beaucoup lighting of all different ilk: overhead, floor, table, and sconce. All extra dim for extra diva appeal. Low wattage from lots of different light sources makes a room feel warm and chic.
3. A bit of greenery, whether it is freshly cut flowers or a nice succulent garden placed in a bowl.
What are you usually cooking on a typical night? Who cooks?
I’m not the cook-iest, and neither is my husband. Luckily, if anyone cooks it is moi. Simon’s food proclivities are incredibly austere.
When you walk into an empty space to be furnished, what is your first thought?
When I’m working on a decorating project, I think the most important part is trying to figure out the message – what the inhabitants want their space to say about them. In general, I think a space should always make its inhabitants a little bit more eccentric and a little bit more glamorous than they think they might be.
First things (aesthetically) you notice upon walking into a restaurant…
Lighting can make or break a restaurant.
In the same vein as ‘what is the new black’ for fashion, what is ‘the new potato’ in home decor?
All brass, all the time.
Who have been your mentors and why?
I certainly have my design heroes – Alexander Girard, Bonnie Cashin, and David Hicks. But my mentor is probably my horrid pottery teacher in college, who told me I had no talent and should give up potting. It’s ironic, but her advice was the best advice I never took.
What was your first big home decor purchase? What did you buy?
I was a super poor, struggling potter and I found this vintage Fornasetti malachite cocktail table. The dealer wanted $500 for it, and I begged, borrowed, pleaded, and stole to get her down to $350. I still know her, and she constantly reminds me that she just felt sorry for me and let me have it because she knew I loved it and couldn’t afford it.