A Peek Into Our World
Jonathan’s mission: to bring Modern American Glamour to your life. How? By creating a foundation of timelessly chic furniture and accessorizing with abandon.
It all started with pottery. Jonathan first gave the wheel a spin at summer camp when he was 12 years old. He was obsessed with clay the moment he touched it, and the rest of his summer was spent in a clay-spattered Rush concert tee. Clay clay clay.
In college at Brown University he allegedly studied semiotics and art history…but he 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. Move to New York and become a lawyer."
He followed through on the first part and spent three years assisting various tyrants in the entertainment industry before realizing his pottery teacher’s approval meant nothing.
Jonathan started teaching classes at Mud, Sweat 'n' Tears in New York City in exchange for free studio space. Then he cold-called the buyers from Barneys New York and subsequently spent his pretty years as a production potter—rollerblading to the studio at 6 am, making a hundred mugs, and coming home to fall asleep. Wedge, glaze, pack, and ship: He did it all.
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, he fell in love with South American textiles and started designing pillows, throws, and rugs. He fused his modern sensibility with the soulful handcrafted work of the people of Peru.
Jonathan opened his first store in Soho in 1998, and soon saw his design desire expand. A few innocent throw pillows evolved into designing sofas to designing the side tables that flanked them, then the lamps to light it all up…and so on. Beyond products, he designs the very hotels, restaurants, and homes in which they sit. All fueled by Jonathan’s wide-ranging interests (Mid-Century Modern design, Brancusi's mix of guts and elegance, Pop Art, global pop culture, fierce femmes, luxe lifestyles) and still grounded by his potter DNA. Jonathan’s office sits in between a giant kiln and a working pottery studio. Our sprawling headquarters occupy a full floor in Soho—we call it the Fantasy Factory (a nod to Warhol's Factory).
Today, Jonathan’s work spans myriad of categories, from the tiniest pots to the swankiest sofas. In less than 20 years he’s opened nearly 30 stores. His favorite motto, “If your heirs won’t fight over it, we won’t make it,” reflects his continued commitment to impeccable craftsmanship and irreverent luxury. And his current flagship store? It sits across the street from that little store with a dream from 1998.
Born in farm town in New Jersey.
Tries pottery at summer camp while wearing a Rush concert tee.
Begs parents to buy him a wheel and kiln.
Spends entire adolescence in basement of family’s modern house throwing pots.
Allegedly studies semiotics and art history at Brown but actually spends all his time at RISD making pots.
Makes quilted line of pottery inspired by Chanel. Evil professor advises him to bag pottery and try a career in law.
Moves to New York and starts working at a talent agency.
Deeply depressed from three long years in the movie business (as anyone would be), quits and returns to the studio to recuperate. Tells parents he wants to be a potter and starts Jonathan Adler, the company—vows never to have a real job again. Concerned parents schedule an intervention.
Shows pots to Barneys and gets an order. Realizes he has to make the pots.
Orders pour in. Time to make the donuts.
At wit’s end from making the donuts, hooks up with Aid to Artisans, a non-profit organization which helps artisans in developing countries to make products for the American market. Flies to Peru and discovers paradise—a beautiful workshop by the sea with parrots and gardens and incredible artisans, creative explosion ensues.
Opens his first store in Soho.
Adopts (with his partner Simon Doonan) a Norwich terrier named Liberace who is the light of their lives.
Millennium madness. Luckily Y2K has no impact on pottery wheels.
Bicoastal! Opens store in Los Angeles. Fervently hopes the cast of Friends will stop by. They don’t.
Launches a glamorous new furniture collection and takes on interior design projects. Starts fondling swatches as well as clay. Liberace turns three.
Develops raging obsession with waspy country club style—needlepoint, chinoiserie, and acid green lacquer. Concerned Jewish mother schedules another intervention.
Creative odyssey continues. Branches out with more categories and designs The Parker Palm Springs hotel. Finds it increasingly difficult to make time to watch Law and Order.
Opens four more stores across the nation (oodles of frequent flyer miles). Wildly expands furniture line. Writes first design book. Jewish mother proud, but Liberace remains aloof—he is, after all, a terrier…
Turns 40. Reluctantly relinquishes ingénue status. Suddenly needlepoint obsession becomes less ironic and more age appropriate.
Reality TV! Joins the Bravo family as lead judge on Top Design. Wanders the streets in outfits borrowed from the show hoping to be recognized…
Gets hitched to Simon… hopes his civil right to marriage will be upheld.
More stores, more stuff, more fun. Tapped to design a real life Malibu Dream House to celebrate Barbie’s 50th. Can finally make amends for decapitating sister’s Barbie in 1974.
Proud Mary keeps on rolling. Despite gnarly economy, spreads Style, Craft, & Joy message with two new books, a bunch of new stores, and a slew of life-enhancing designs. Liberace (12 years old!) barks at Lollipop Peacock.
Selected to be Lacoste’s 6th Annual Holiday Collector’s Series artist, opened first international store in London with aim of world-wide domination…
Launches fabric line with Kravet and continues global take over with more stores…
Expands with even more products and ensures world domination continues with two more stores.
Celebrates 20 years of style, craft, joy, and empire building. Three more stores launch in the U.S., plus wholesale accounts launch in glamorous jet-set locations in Australia and Asia.
Modern American Glamour for all! Opens the largest JA store yet in Topanga. Adopts Foxylady, the cutest mutt in history. The late, great Liberace (the Norwich Terrier, not the showman) is smiling down from the big dog park in the sky.
Partnerships abound. New stores open, including our now-largest Lexington Avenue showroom. Still manages to make time to snuggle with office pups (and occasionally Simon).