Jonathan Adler, the king of happy chic, stopped by his eponymous Chicago shop and threw a swanky little soiree last week. He sold and signed 84 pieces of pottery and 10 books in two hours. He was wearing his new Jonathan Adler/7 Jeans collection, sipping a cocktail from his new line of paper goods, and shaking hands with his fans, including a few who drove in from Peoria. I caught up with him the morning after.
Welcome back to Chicago. What do you think of our city?
People are just nicer here. Seems like less stress. In New York everybody has an agenda, here they are just living life. The architecture is so groovy. I fantasize about a Mies apartment on a terrifyingly high floor with arresting views on the lake. Oh, and The Art Institute, please!
Are you monogram obsessed?
In this super-clutter mass world, everything that cranks up the personalization is alright with me. I strive to make memorable items that heirs with fight over. We’re special. I have a desire for specialness in what I make.
What’s with all the whales?
Who doesn’t love a whale? Such a beloved sea mammal with cultural resonance, and their shape is nifty. They evoke a preppy patrician too.
Are you preppy? Not authentically. I dig the look and accouterment of preppydom and old money W.A.S.P.s. But I am proud to be a nouveau-riche Jew.
The Union Jack gets saluted lots in your collections, what’s up with that?
I am a raging Anglophile. It’s a nifty, mod icon. Rare that you can find something so graphic and recognizable that you can play around with—I love toying with the colors graphically and culturally.
What’s new at JA?
Nifty new pots, pillows. The baby line, Jonathan Adler Junior. I have two new books coming out as part of a series: Happy Chic Color and Happy Chic Accessories. Neat how-to’s with nifty pics.
—Barri Leiner Grant