Jonathan Adler

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the potter and designer. For the American legal commentator and law professor, see Jonathan H. Adler.
Jonathan Adler
Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan Shelter Island.jpg
Adler with Simon Doonan (July 2015)
Born August 11, 1966 (1966-08-11) (age 50)
New Jersey, U.S.
Residence Manhattan, New York City
Nationality American
Education Brown University
Occupation Potter, interior designer, designer, business owner
Years active 1990s-present
Known for Pottery, product design, commercial and residential design, furniture design
Television Top Design judge (2007–2008)
Spouse(s) Simon Doonan (m. 2008)[1]

Jonathan Adler (born August 11, 1966 in New Jersey) is an American potter, designer, and author. Adler launched his first ceramic collection in 1993 at Barneys New York. Five years later he expanded into home furnishings, opening his first namesake boutique in Soho, Manhattan. He now has 30 stores and runs an eponymous design empire.

Design career[edit]

Jonathan discovered his love of pottery summer camp when he was 12 years old. He attended Brown University, studying semiotics and art history, but spent most of his time at the nearby Rhode Island School of Design making pots. His RISD pottery—Chanel inspired teapots and updated takes on Sevres urns—reflected his interests in pop culture, early hip hop bling, contemporary art, and fashion. Unfortunately, his professor encouraged him thusly: “You have no talent, you need to leave and give up on your dreams and go become a lawyer.”[2]

After graduating, he spent three years as an assistant in the entertainment industry before realizing his pottery teacher’s approval meant nothing. He has said that “every creative person, and every craftsperson, should have a naysayer to rebel against.” [3]

In 1990, Jonathan started teaching classes at Mud, Sweat 'n' Tears in New York City in exchange for free studio space. With those pots on hand, he cold-called the buyers from Barneys New York, received an order, and became a full-time production potter. In 1993 Jonathan Adler Enterprises LLC was born.

He started as a production potter, producing everything on his own for years. Eventually, he partnered with Aid to Artisans, a non-profit organization devoted to helping artisans in developing countries by connecting them with designers in America. While in Peru visiting pottery studios, he fell in love with South American textiles and started designing pillows, throws, and rugs inspired by the country’s soulful, handcrafted work.

Jonathan opened his first store in Soho in 1998 and today his designs are available in 30 stores and over 1,000 retailers. His designs span a myriad of categories, from the tiniest pots to the swankiest sofas. His motto, “If your heirs won’t fight over it, we won’t make it,” reflects his continued commitment to impeccable craftsmanship and irreverent luxury.[4]

Interior design projects[edit]

Beyond product design, he has handled the interior design work of many high-profile commercial and residential projects. In 2004, he designed the iconic Parker Palm Springs Hotel, the former [Merv Griffin]'s Resort and Givenchy Spa property in Palm Springs, California. It became “the resort of choice for the cognoscenti and the celebrity set, who year after year let their hair down behind the famous white walls.” [5] In 2016, he revamped the Parker Palm Springs Hotel, redoing the property from top-to-bottom including installing a massive seven-foot-tall bronze banana soon on the main lawn. Of the giant sculpture he said. “I felt this urge to make something that was timeless, but also relevant and provocative in the age of Instagram.” [6]

Other projects include 225 Rector Place, Abington House (on the High Line (New York City)),[7] multiple Related Property apartment designs and a 2015 overhaul of the rooms, hallways, and outdoor areas at Eau Palm Beach.

He often speaks and appears at high-profile design industry events and design-centric museums, such as IDS, IDS West, KBIS, and the Mint Museum. He’s appeared as a guest on Good Morning America, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and several other national programs.


Jonathan credits a wide-range of interests, from Mid-Century Modern design to Brancusi's mix of guts and elegance to architecture, Pop Art, Valley of the Dolls, and global pop culture, fierce femmes, luxe lifestyles. Most of all, he credits his pottery roots as the true basis behind any design. To this day his Soho office still includes a giant kiln and a working pottery studio.

Personal life[edit]

After growing up in Bridgeton, New Jersey, Adler studied semiotics and art history at Brown University, as well as ceramics at the Rhode Island School of Design. In September 2008, he married his partner of 14 years, Simon Doonan, in California. Doonan and Adler live in New York City with their beloved pup, Foxylady, adopted from Northshore Animal League America.

Jonathan’s duplex apartment in Greenwich Village and his home on Shelter Island have been regularly covered by the design press. He consider his homes showplaces for his designs saying, “I make many thousands of products, and not only do I enjoy bringing them into my house, I just feel it's my responsibility to road test them.”[8]

Gay rights advocacy[edit]

An advocate for gay rights, Adler has publicly expressed his support for gay marriage.[9] and works with various organizations to support LGBT rights. Both he and Simon have filmed videos for Dan Savage's "It Gets Better Project".[10]


Year Book title Adler's role Publishing details ISBN
2005 My Prescription for Anti-depressive Living Author New York: HarperCollins ISBN 0060820535
2010 Jonathan Adler on Happy Chic Accessorizing Author New York: Sterling Publishing ISBN 1402774303
2010 Jonathan Adler on Happuc Chic Colors Author New York: Sterling Publishing ISBN 1402774311
2012 100 Ways to Happy Chic Your Life Author New York: Sterling Publishing ISBN 1402775075


Year Series/film Release details Adler's role
2007 Top Design season 1 TV series by BRAVO Judge for all ten episodes
2008 Top Design season 2 TV series by BRAVO Judge for all ten episodes

See also[edit]