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Interview With Jonathan Adler and Why He Feels Misunderstood as a Designer

Jonathan Adler Debuts His New York Times Photo Collection and Tells Us Why He Feels Misunderstood as a Designer!

Earlier, I announced that the New York Times has asked five celebrated interior designers (Vicente Wolf, Kelly Wearstler, Jonathan Adler, Laura Kirar, and Thom Filicia) to each curate 10 of their favorite photographs from the NYT Store's new photo archives. The collection, called 50 Photographs, is available for purchase online today. I chatted with the illustrious Jonathan Adler on Friday about his selections and his work as a designer. Check out the interview below!

CasaSugar: So I was able to take a sneak peek at your collection of the New York Times photos, and I see you've chosen mostly photographs of glamorous revelers all wearing masks. What is it about the masquerade theme that you're drawn to?
Jonathan Adler: I just think there's nothing more fun than looking at pictures of glamorous in fancy dress having fun and I think masks are sort of . . . they're all about intrigue, and that's what a picture should be about. A picture should be provoking and intriguing and a little bit titillating.

And then . . . so I chose I think nine mask pictures I believe and then I chose one picture that's particularly grim and sort of an American version of a Martin Parr picture of the New Jersey Turnpike just to remind me of where I came from!


CS: Right! I'm from New Jersey, also. So I very much appreciate that!
JA: Holla! It's a great place to be from because it gave me somewhere to want to crawl my way out of.

CS: Exactly! Well, it worked for you, or at least it seems like it!
JA: Yea — it worked! And that picture is a good reminder.

CS: Do you have any other decorative reminders of your youth and your Jersey boy days in your home?
JA: Millions! Yeah. Well I joke about saying it was somewhere to want to crawl my way out of because it had its idyllic moments. But also I think pictures . . . I love to hang photos over the toilets, and I love the idea of faces staring back at you in your moment of privacy. So that's why I think any of these pictures would look fab hung over the ter-let!

CS: Your work has a major element of humor in it from your playful color choices to your jars that read "uppers" and "downers," and this collection is definitely no exception.
JA: You know, I think design should be gorgeous but a little bit cheeky, and so I think these are perfect pictures. They are formally beautiful pictures that are beautifully printed . . . sort of everything about them is gorgeous but there is definitely an element of levity.

Find out why Jonathan Adler says he feels misunderstood as a designer when you read more!

CS: Is there a place in your design work that you can identify a more serious side or is there a place in design that you would recommend taking a more serious attitude?
JA: Sometimes I feel misunderstood because I'm actually incredibly serious about design and very rigorous. And I hope that if you really look at my stuff you'll see that my product design and my work is actually quite minimalist and hopefully beautiful. I believe that design should have an economy and each object should be perfectly designed, manufactured, and beautiful. But I think that when it comes to surrounding myself with objects, that's where I throw minimalism out the window and I become a raging maximalist! But it's funny . . . the idea of humor in design really doesn't have much of a place in my product design — well it has some place in my product design — but I'm very serious about design.

CS: You had to chose through literally thousands of images in this new New York Times Store, and it seems like it will be a great new resource for all of us. But it's also daunting to have to go through so much. Where did you begin to look when choosing photos for your own collection?
JA: I guess I began with sort of the idea of glamorous people having fun, staring into the camera, and sort of the idea of glamorous intrigue. So that's sort of what was in my mind: glamorous intrigue and faces, and so masked balls just made a lot of sense.

CS: So can we expect to see a Jonathan Adler Mask Collection anytime soon?
JA: Never say never!

CS: You curated your collection along with some other fantastic designers, who obviously have terrific taste. Are there any photographs from their collections that you'd choose for your own home?

JA: Um, yes! I happen to be literally ecstatic with the company I'm in because they're all among my favorite designers. I will be getting my shop on!

CS: Will you be taking your own selections home or to your office?
JA: Definitely. They'll be going home. There will be many a toilet capped by them pictures.

CS: So sort of spread throughout your home?
JA: Totes!

CS: The subjects in this collection are all very connected. But I've seen in some of your interiors you've done a much more mix-and-match style gallery wall, in terms of medium and theme. Do you have a preference for one style of arrangement over the other?
JA: It's such a tough one because it just all depends on context. But I mean I love a salon wall and that goes back to the maximalist idea. If each object within your salon wall is really fab and is a reflection of you and is something that you love, you can hang it all in a bold, salon-style and it will work.

CS: Well, I definitely haven't seen any flaws in your own salon-style walls, it's clearly tried and true!
JA: Ha, oh, well thank you! Yeah, well actually I have two books coming out in two weeks and I have a whole hanging art section. It's Jonathan Adler on Happy Chic Colors and Jonathan Adler on Happy Chic Accessorizing, and they come out Nov. 2.

CS: And you just debuted your new Jonathan Adler Happy Chic line for HSN!
JA: Yeah it's sort of a special collection that's just for HSN, with a really nifty style and a really great price point.

CS: How does this photo collection reflects your overall design aesthetic?
JA: I hope very much that it's completely a reflection of my aesthetic in that I definitely strive to make design that is gorgeous, intriguing, provocative, and a little bit cheeky.











To buy Jonathan's collection of photographs, head to the New York Times Store!

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