Jonathan Adler

By Richard Schultz, Nov. 6, 2014.

Iconic potter, designer and author Jonathan Adler recently expanded his brand by adding a new self-titled store to the Biltmore Fashion Park in Phoenix.

Though Adler and his husband, Barneys New York Creative Ambassador Simon Doonan, live in New York City, the couple was in town for the Oct. 17 grand opening of his newest store — which also the first day same-sex couples were legally able to marry in Arizona as well as the beginning of couple’s 20th anniversary celebration.

I waited for the perfect spot to open up here,” Adler said. “This store is one of the freshest and most radical places to be. We’re here for anyone who wants a life filled with glamour and luxury with a dash of irreverence.”

Adler’s distinctive style — bold colors and geometrics with a retro whimsy — is poised to redefine the Valley’s aesthetic landscape.

And the company’s guiding motto, “If your heirs won’t fight over it, we won’t make it,” reflects Adler’s commitment to impeccable craftsmanship and irreverent luxury.

Adler, who launched his first ceramic collection in 1994 at Barneys New York and opened his first namesake boutique in Manhattan five years later, now has more than 25 stores worldwide.

While remaining committed to ceramic design, Adler has grown far beyond the potter’s wheel to become an internationally recognized design brand offering decorative objects, tabletop collections, bedding, bath accessories, gifts, candles, furniture, rugs, pillows, lighting and, most recently, handbags.

But Adler said that transition took a while.

“I was a potter for five years,” he said. “Gradually, I thought if I am making vases, they should be next to a nice lamp, which needs to be on a fantastic table. And then if there’s a table, it’s silly that it’s not next to a sofa that I designed.”

With Doonan at his side, Adler chatted with Echo ahead of the grand opening event.

Echo: How do you balance the art with the business side?

Adler: I’m actually an accidental entrepreneur. I have always most cared of about making stuff … I’ve gotten better with the business side over the years. It enables me to make more stuff.

Echo: There’s a definite retro vibe. Where does that come from?

Adler: I have a myriad of influences from Andy Warhol to Yves Saint Laurent and Madonna. I believe in rustic modernism like A-Frame beach houses, raw beams, and geodesic dome homes. I also adore a Palm Beach vibe, Louis chairs, and Lily Pulitzer. I believe that your home should make you happy.

Echo: How does this store compare with your other lines?

Adler: In this day and age, every designer needs to have a diffusion line. I am a restless designer who wants to design more. Almost everything in this story comes from my mind. I want to do more just like my tie … it’s the embodiment of my quest for more. (The pattern on his tie is montage of the word “more.”)

Echo:Any plans for more books or a television series like Bravo’s Top Design?

Adler: Nothing is planned. I love doing all that other stuff and I’m a lucky dude that gets to do those. To be honest, my true passion is being in my potter’s studio and design office. All that other stuff is a very lucky distraction but it’s not my focus.

Echo: What design trends are on the horizon?

Adler: Anyone that does not have a dash of brass or gold in their house is just insane. Both of those are a must! A pop of purple never hurts and a lot of Lucite is essential!

While the Biltmore store marks Adler’s fourth-largest brick-and-mortar retail space in the world, he said a Santa Monica store is already in the works and others are sure to follow.

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Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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