8 things that Jonathan Adler has taught us

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  • Advice and tips from interior designer guru Jonathan Adler as told to Livingetc

    Our favourite New Yorker Jonathan Adler began his career in 1994 with a single order for his pottery from Barneys, the luxury department store. His empire now includes thousands of products, over 25 stores, four books, endless interiors projects (did we mention the ‘real’ Barbie Dream House in Florida) and a reality TV show. He’s the darling of home accessories, producing everything from rugs and pillows to lighting and furniture.

    1 Do not be afraid of colour
    It’s all about “strategic strikes of colour in neutral spaces” – there’s no need to go full rainbow. This frisky yellow wall creates instant sunshine even when the skies are grey. A well-chosen hue will lift the spirits and bring you joy.

    2 You can never have too many lamps
    “Lighting is the unsung hero of design. It needs to be dimmable and come from lots of different sources. Every room could use another lamp”. Notice how this foursome mixes up the shade shapes. Try to avoid getting hung up on matchy-matchy.

    3 Accessorise, accessorise, accessorise!

    Think modernist meets maximalist. Curate like Adler by juxtaposing your eclectic finds in eccentric and amusing ways. Jonathan describes husband Simon Doonan and himself as “open-minded visual thrill seekers”. Create your own personal museum of fun.

    4 Rugs rule
    A bold floor filler helps to hold a look together, creates zones in larger spaces and it keeps your toes cosy too. Give it star billing by keeping furniture fabrics simple.

    5 Go large in small spaces
    Swerve the sensibly sized coffee table and get max impact with a giant pouf. Ideal for cashmere throws, extravagant art tomes or partygoer perching. Adler knows how to cram with confidence. Small hits of pattern prevent total sensory overload.

    6 Put the style eras in the blender
    Mid-century modern meets James Bond at Studio 54. It shouldn’t work but it does. Adler’s interior blender welcomes all eras just as long as they’re groovy, baby.

    7 Chic can be cheeky
    “Bonnie Cashin, Alexander Girard and Bjørn Wiinblad are my holy trinity of designers. They inspire me because they all created work that’s totally idiosyncratic, full of cheeky optimism and yet unimpeachably chic.” Nothing beats a haughty-looking budgerigar portrait for dinner party chatter.

    8 Irreverent luxury
    “Your home should be personal, idiosyncratic, a little irreverent and luxurious. I’m focused on making impeccably made, beautiful stuff that has a cheeky spirit” says Adler. A decadent daybed and white furry chair will do nicely, thank you.

    A final word from Mister A:

    “Make your spaces bold and memorable – when you’re about to kick the bucket, you want to remember your Persimmon breakfast room and not an endless sea of beige. your home should make you happy.” Amen to that.


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