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Decorate Like A Designer With Jonathan Adler

by Lawrence Ferber

This new thirteen-episode series is an informative, fun, and sassy online masterclass about interior design.

Photos by Robert Wright for Wondrium

To discuss the Wondrium series, life with Simon, and share some extra decorating, travel, home hacks and dish, as well as a flea market find that would make Jeff Koons jealous, Jonathan Adler joined us in the VIP Lounge.

The only thing that beats having groovy Jonathan Adler items in your home (from pottery to bedding to furniture to scented candles) is having the wickedly smart, cheeky decorator and potter personally join you there, which is exactly what the Wondrium series Decorate Like A Designer With Jonathan Adler makes happen…albeit virtually.

Described as “edutainment,” the twelve-episode series, which premiered Friday, May 13th on the streaming service, is an informative, fun, and sassy online masterclass that also features appearances by his equally delightful tastemaking husband, Simon Doonan.

After making a name for himself through pottery during the mid-1990s, the New Jersey-born Adler opened his first namesake home furnishings shop in NYC almost fifteen years ago, and the past year or so has been especially prolific for the multi-hyphenate. Last year saw Adler collaborate with Ruggable on a new line of mod area rugs; serve as head judge on discovery+ reality series Design Star:Next Gen; launch a contemporary twist on Hanukkah menorahs during the holiday season; and open a brand new Lexington Avenue and 65th Street NYC flagship store (reportedly, a massive Soho counterpart is in the works).

To discuss the Wondrium series, life with Simon, and share some extra decorating, travel, home hacks and dish, as well as a flea market find that would make Jeff Koons jealous , Adler joined us in the VIP Lounge.

How did this Wondrium series come to be?

I love content. I read, watch, and listen to everything. So when Wondrium called, I picked up the phone. The opportunity to share hours of my musings about my favorite subject—design, not myself!—I jumped at the chance.

You share a lot of juicy anecdotes about your evolution as a creative, as well as your personal life and history. There’s a lot of cheeky, self-deprecating humor. I love when you refer to yourself as “older and more haggard.” What else separates this series from the online masterclasses that have popped up online over the past year or two?

Three words: me, me, me.

Which are the three most critical episodes in this series for aspiring designers and creatives to watch?

This is a real Sophie’s Choice! But these days everyone with an Instagram account is trying to build their “personal brands,” so I think the episode on “Creating Your Design Brand” is a great start. No spoilers, but I encourage you to start thinking of, one, an adjective; two, a word or phrase that sets a vibe; and three, an occupation or lifestyle. How do these come together? Watch and you’ll see!

What are a few topics or titles that fell by the wayside but you’d love to revive if there are more seasons?

I thought there could’ve been an entire series dedicated to the pitfalls of purple, but I was outvoted.

In the first episode you and Simon touch on what distinguishes different design movements. Can you also detect differences between a straight person’s work and a queer person’s? Any rules to live by there?

I have two rules in life. Always buy a chandelier that’s bigger than you think you need and more expensive than you think you can afford. And when it comes to decorating, the wife is always right…unless the husband is gay. We actually live in an “anything goes” world when it comes to design, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But I am glad the taxidermy trend seems to be on its way out. I just think it’s sad.

How much does Simon have a hand in your work these days and vice-versa? Has that dynamic changed a lot from your first years together?

Everyone always wants to think of us as two queens spending our days fighting over our pillowscapes, but the truth is Simon is busy writing and I’m busy running my business and there’s no overlap.

 

 

In the first episode you share a great anecdote about going to a Bahamas resort with Simon, which was completely chic except totally joyless, and a totally joyful but not chic waterpark resort, and how you decided to combine both joyful and chic as your personal style. Which international properties do you feel successfully combine fun and style today?

The Parker Palm Springs is magical, and I’m not just saying that because I designed it (twice). A successful hotel has a sense of place and makes you feel

like you’re on a squishy vacation from the moment you enter. And Claridge’s in London, the Scalinatella in Capri, and Aman anywhere are at the top of my list.

Where do you like to travel for inspiration these days?

Inspiration is an unpredictable sprite. I just keep my eyes and my mind wide open, but I wouldn’t say no to a trip to Big Sky country if someone’s offering.

It seems like everything you touch turns to groovy gold, but have there been any fails that didn’t make it out of the workshop, or creations you later regretted?

Simon calls me Arianna Kafka because I’m half pop princess, half brooding philosopher. I don’t take much in life seriously except for design. When it comes to design I’m deadly serious, and there’s way more that doesn’t make it to production than does. And some of the stuff that I love the most flops. I don’t get caught up in that, and I make what I want to make and hope that people like it as much as I do.

The New York Times ran a story in April about the boom in busts as a home design item, in which you appeared along with your God, Goddess and Soldier busts. Which famous or historic figures’ busts would you love to have in your home, if you don’t already?

Alexander Girard, David Hicks, Bonnie Cashin, and our adorable rescue mutt FoxyLady. In our living room we have a plaster bust of Michael Jackson that we bought at a flea market that would make Jeff Koons green with envy, so if you love it, it will work.

Your 15 year wedding anniversary is next year. First off, congrats! Second, any plans for a vacation or party to celebrate?

You may be surprised to hear that my shorter half Simon and I are two of the least sentimental folks on the planet, so no, no plans.

Finally, would you love to learn down the road that the Wondrium series helped launch a career or two, or at least saved a gay couple from a tacky home?

My ingenue years are well beyond me, and I’m now firmly entrenched in my avuncular years, so I’d love to know that I either educated or entertained or, since I love a portmanteau, edutained someone with my musings.

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