[tps_header]n a recent mission to the opening of the 27th Jonathan Adler store at the Biltmore Fashion Park in Phoenix, I had the opportunity to interview the eponymous designer Jonathan Adler, the man who coined the phrase “Happy Chic” and designed the interior for a real-life Barbie Malibu Dream House. He was just as chic and charismatic in person as you might imagine after visiting one of his stores. He sported a Carhartt Sid blazer with a camo print and a tie from his collection with the word ‘more’ as a repetitive motif.
“He’s a true designer who’s very rigorous and very disciplined. He has a very strong focus and he influences me. I think about color in a completely different way since knowing Johnny.” — Simon Doonan
Adler’s designs run the gamut from porcelain pottery to fashion accessories, which can also be found at his new store. Just sitting and chatting with the designer amidst his creations, it’s hard not to be inspired. Even fashion guru and Barneys New York Creative Ambassador-at-Large, Simon Doonan, is inspired by Adler: “He’s a true designer who’s very rigorous and very disciplined,” Doonan stated while we chatted on a settee in a corner away from the buzzing crowd surrounding Adler. “He has a very strong focus and he influences me. I think about color in a completely different way since knowing Johnny.”
It’s easy to be entranced by the exquisite furnishings and home decor items with a Mid-century modern and pop culture influence, such as a tufted loveseat with scroll pillows, lounge chairs with sculpted silhouettes, and geometrically shaped wall sconces. It was just the posh space to sit and chat with Adler about style.
What is happy chic?
To me, design should be optimistic and stylish. Actually now I have a diffusion line called Happy Chic.
What are some of the things included in that line?
That’s like a line that I do for JcPenney, but all the stuff here is my own upstairs brand … Happy Chic is now my diffusion thing. The spirit of this line is style, craft and joy. It’s sort of my tag line and it’s about creating stuff that is impeccably stylish, beautifully crafted, and expresses the joy that I feel in making stuff.
How would you describe your design philosophy?
It’s about irreverent luxury. You should surround yourself with stuff that is going to make your choppers tingle. You should never settle for anything. Everything in your home should be extraordinary and something that your heirs will fight over. That’s kind of what I want to do with my work.
Like a coveted piece?
A coveted space, item, everything. I grew up with an incredibly chic grandmother who whenever I would go to her house she had the most incredible stuff from her travels, she just had amazing, amazing things. It was sort of those things that were in her house that really triggered my imagination as a kid … When my grandmother [died], my brother, sister and I fought over the stuff in her house and I thought, alright, I want to be the one who’s like causing battles between siblings in the future.
Which famous siblings could you see vying for your goods?
I want all the famous ones. I’m trying to see who the siblings on my radar at the moment are. I’ll embarrass myself, because I’m so low-brow on my musical and TV taste, that’s what’s on my mind. I can imagine Ariana Grande and her brother who’s on “Big Brother” battling it out.
How can people infuse their personal style into their home decor?
They should do more of that than they typically do. I think a lot of people spend all their time and energy and money on their personal style and they forget about their houses. I think they should try and be as flamboyant and stylish at home as they are on their backs.
I have intel that you and Mr. Doonan decorated your house in Shelter Island. What is a coveted item there that you guys just can’t live without?
My favorite thing in that house is this unbelievable piece of art by this guy called Andy Harmon and it’s a macrame owl … it’s like twelve feet across. Basically he’s this artist who took this sort of classic small macrame owl that people made in the 70s and just did it in the biggest he could work with. It’s a perfect example of how people can take something mundane and make it exquisite.
What is one of your favorite items in store currently?
I have so many things. Right now, I’m mad for the brass bird bowl.
Complete this statement: “I am to interior design what __________ is to fashion design?
Paul Smith, he’s my hero.
If you were a Chic Spy Agent, what would be your code name?
Any final thoughts you would like to share with us?
Just be bold and irreverent and keep inspiring me.
Just a few items from the Jonathan Adler store that would look fabulous in the Chic Intelligence Agency headquarters:[/tps_header]
My Chic Spy Agents will need a comfy place to lounge once I’ve drilled them on their latest missions. The Lampert Sofa is perfect!