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By Lauren Swanson | Photo: Courtesy of Jonathan Adler | April 12, 2017
With a new spring collection and the recent refresh of the Parker Palm Springs, an iconic property Jonathan Adler first designed 10 years ago, the designer and provocateur gives us a look at what’s inspiring him now.
Tell us about your latest collection.
I’m doing a lot that’s inspired by Josef Hoffmann and the Wiener Werkstätte design, so it’s sort of Austrian ’20s kind of minimalism and elementalism through my contemporary sculpture. I’m doing lots with Lucite, which is a miracle material. And I’m always doing lots of pill-themed stuff. I love pills. [Laughs.] They’re just great. I like to do a lot of design that is hedonistic because I’m not hedonistic at all. I think I get my thrills through making stuff rather than taking stuff.
“Make stuff; don’t take stuff.” Trademark that! So who are your design icons at the moment?
I think the people who inspire me the most are probably Alexander Girard; Bonnie Cashin, who is a midcentury [fashion] designer; [and] Rei Kawakubo with Comme des Garçons. They’re all prolific designers whose work is incredibly chic but exuberant.
Most common mistake made in interior design?
People compromise. They get exhausted and think ‘this will do.’ The husband likes it; the wife likes it. And then it’s just there, and you should never, ever settle. You need to buy stuff your heirs are going to fight over. Because, unlike fashion, home design is not ephemeral. It’s stuff you’re going to have forever.
Which trend do you wish would just die?
I don’t like the taxidermy trend. It’s just sad. I hate it.
What makes the perfect room?
Lighting is everything. You need many sources of light, and they need to be on dimmers.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
Oh, my gosh—I’d be a barista at best. I’m 100 percent unemployable. That’s a fact. I tried to be a worker bee in my 20s, and I got fired from every job I ever had. I was unemployed and started teaching night pottery classes and kind of accidentally got my first order. It’s funny. A lot of young people assume you need to have a whole business plan and branding statement, and I think a lot of people today put the cart before the horse. I think any creative enterprise should be born of passion. Everyone thinks they need to have a brand. I think the word ‘brand’ has been the enemy of creativity. I’d love to see that word banished.
So what’s next?
My basic motto is more, more, more. So I’m just making more stuff, more pots, more furniture. I kind of just live my life and let things roll in.
Fashion Island, L.A., San Francisco, Santa Monica, jonathanadler.com