The Style Files: Jonathan Adler



I have realized that in the past few years, my life has become somewhat insular. My professional and personal lives are entrenched in design, most of my close friends are also in the industry and are as design-obsessed as I am, and my husband works in the industry and is very much in the know. I’m always reminded of this when I spend time with family or non-design friends and they have no idea or interest in what I am talking about! While most of us consider top designers “household names”, it doesn’t really translate to the majority of American homes. There are a few exceptions, and Jonathan Adler is certainly at the top of that list. Everyone knows his name and his singular, signature style. Potter, designer, and author Jonathan Adler is one of the foremost names in design, achieving what many only dream of. His eponymous brand includes furniture, lighting, rugs, textiles, pottery, a line of fabrics with Kravet, and retail stores in just about every major city in the country. He has designed boutique hotels such as The Parker Palm Springs and Eau Palm Beach and has appeared on reality TV as a judge on Bravo’s Top Design (along with Margaret Russell, Kelly Wearstler, India Hicks, and Todd Oldham– do you remember?). With a penchant for bold color, graphic patterns, and a nod to the past, Jonathan has created a point of view that is uniquely his own and continues to inspire his legions of fans.

I had such a fun time working on this installment of the Style Files! It was a treat for it all to begin with a note from Jonathan saying he enjoys reading my blog, but more than anything, I have drawn inspiration from getting to know someone who is at once an accomplished designer and businessman who, like me,  happens to worship at the altar of David Hicks, shares my love of over-scaled lighting, and also watches MSNBC’s Lockup. What are the odds? I seriously thought I was the only one watching it (my friends will attest to me talking about this ridiculous new obsession all summer), but nearly died when Jonathan said he and his partner, Simon Doonan are fans of the show. This is definitely one of the most fun Style Files so far– enjoy!


Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Jonathan Adler:  Modern American Glamour

Jonathan Adler Shelter Island AD2

{The Shelter Island Home Jonathan Adler shares with his Husband, Simon Doonan | Photography by Joshua McHugh for Architectural Digest}

PC: Has living in New York influenced the way you decorate in any way?

JA: I am New York; I grew up in a tiny farm town but New York has made me me. New York is the most stimulating and creative city on earth.

Jonathan Adler BaxterLiving-002_JL

{An Assortment of Chic Furniture and Lighting by Jonathan Adler}

PC: What does your home say about you?

JA: My hubby, Simon wrote a book called “Eccentric Glamour: Creating an Insanely More Fabulous You” and I hope that our pad says that we are eccentrically glamorous. My house is very personal – it’s full of everything I love, layered together in a mad hodgepodge of styles, eras, and colors. I love it.


{Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan at home in Greenwich Village | Photography by Zach Desart for Lonny}

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

JA: I always keep my eyes and my mind wide open. Creativity is an audacious undertaking and I try not to think about it too much.

Jonathan Adler Parker Palm Springs

{A Guestroom at the Parker Palm Springs which was Designed by Jonathan Adler | Photography by Zach Desart for Lonny}

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

JA: Alexander Girard, Bonnie Cashin, and David Hicks are my holy trinity.


{An Iconic Interior by the Legendary David Hicks}

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

JA: I’ve never met a baked good I didn’t like. Hence countless hours on the treadmill at the gym.

Jonathan Adler Shelter Island AD3

{The Kitchen and Dining Room at Jonathan’s Home on Shelter Island | Photography by Joshua McHugh for Architectural Digest}

PC: What trait do you most admire in a person?

JA: A sense of humor (and a nice head of hair). Luckily, my hubby Simon Doonan has both.


{Simon and Jonathan |Photography by Zach Desart for Lonny}

PC: Who has been your greatest professional influence?

JA: My pottery teacher in college who told me I had no talent and should move to New York and be a lawyer. Every creative person needs a naysayer to rebel against.

Jonathan Adler Shelter Island AD4

{One of Jonathan’s Signature Lamps in the Bathroom at his Shelter Island Home | Photography by Joshua McHugh for Architectural Digest}

PC: What is your idea of living “la dolce vita”?

JA: Paddleboarding on Shelter Island with my husband and our rescue dog, Foxylady – then settling in for a roast chicken, an apple pie, and a marathon of high and low TV. Saturday nights chez Adler-Doonan find us switching back and forth between Lockup on MSNBC and Book TV on CSpan2.

Jonathan Adler Shelter Island AD5

{Jonathan’s House in Shelter Island |Photography by Joshua McHugh for Architectural Digest}

PC: What can we look forward to next from you?

JA: More, more, more of everything. Opening new stores (like our largest ever in Topanga, CA in September), making more stuff, throwing more pots, more. I’m a restless designer and the more I make, the more I want to make.


{An Assortment of Signature Jonathan Adler Wares}



Go-To Outfit: Skinny white jeans from Uniqlo and a Lacoste polo

Scent: Unscented

Piece of Jewelry: The Rolex my husband gave me for one of our anniversaries

Color I Never Tire Of: Red/white/blue

Flower: Peonies

Indispensable Design Element: A chandelier that is bigger than you think you need and more expensive than you think you can afford.

Era for Design: All of them. But I must say that Art Nouveau is really tingling my chakras right now.

Dream Project: I’d love to design a car, inside and out.

Hostess Gift: My Champagne Candle or anything else from Jonathan Adler, of course.


Meal: Roast chicken and apple pie

Drink: Iced tea with milk. It’s weird, I know, but it’s my truth.

Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work: Slaying my husband at ping pong.

Weekend Destination: Shelter Island

Hotel: Claridge’s in London, Eau Palm Beach in Palm Beach

City: New York

Museum: The V&A in London

Artist: Ed Paschke

Greatest Extravagance: Hotel laundry. I wouldn’t even think about touching anything in the minibar (obvs) but, for some reason, I have recently started to surrender to hotel laundry and it’s life changing.

Go-To Color Palette: Turquoise and navy and cerulean and French blue is an “always” combination.

Rule to Break: All of them. Love what you love, unapologetically.

Movie Set Design: North by Northwest

I can never have too many…Lights on dimmers. All dimmers all the time for extra glamour (espesh important as one ages, FYI.)



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  1. Truly a designer who has given people everywhere to break the rules and design with drama! A great interview with Jonathan, Paloma!

    The Arts by Karena
    Artist Nicoletta Belletti

  2. The BOY got GOOD Taste & New Shoes !!!
    I think as times goes on he has a Cleaner & Younger Look !!!
    Missing then Both at St.BARTHS

    If they do the Hamptons, Capri, St TROPEZ or New York,New York! & Palm Beach !!! it all Looks so GOOD.

    AL Spok from BONWIT TELLER 5th Avenue Windows !