It all sounds so simple coming out of Jonathan Adler’s mouth: “Your home should make you happy. Subversive is superior. Minimalism is a bummer.” These bold, irreverent declarations, part of his design manifesto, illustrate perfectly what makes us all love him — he doesn’t give a damn about what you’re supposed to do, he just wants you to have fun doing it.
Since his debut ceramics collection was snapped up by Barneys New York in 1993, potter and designer Jonathan Adler’s distinctive, charming aesthetic has become globally sought after. He’s designed projects as diverse as hotel rooms in Dubai and candy bento boxes for Sugarfina, and the decor and furnishings from his eponymous line are available at retailers from Holt Renfrew to Shopbop. This year, Adler launched a tabletop collaboration with Higher Standards, a design-forward retailer for cannabis connoisseurs. We caught up with Adler to find out more about how he became involved with the more hedonistic side of modern American glamour.
“Your home should make you happy. Subversive is superior. Minimalism is a bummer.”
Latitude: How would you describe your aesthetic?
Jonathan Adler: Three words. Modern. American. Glamour.
LAT: So if you’re about modern American glamour, how do you feel about us, your northern neighbour?
JA: Canada is the best! Super stylish design, super nice people, and super beautiful scenery. The trifecta!
LAT: Tell us about your iconic “Vice” range.
JA: I love the combination of the perky silhouettes with the perky — or provocative — text. They’re a classic in the line, so it seems like other people love the combination, too!
LAT: Do you have any vices?
JA: I’ve never met a baked good I didn’t like.
LAT: You’ve long-incorporated symbols from the world of cannabis (and other substances) into your work. What do you love most about them?
JA: The truth is I am the cleanest living person around, and drug iconography allows me to — vicariously — explore my hedonistic side. I always say I live clean but decorate dirty.
LAT: How did your partnership with Higher Standards come into being?
JA: When Higher Standards approached me about working together, all it took was one look at who they are and what they do to realize they’re not like the headshops of yore. They’re irreverent and glamorous — two things I try to express in my work.
LAT: As a non-smoker, how was the capsule for you to design? Did you research contemporary cannabis paraphernalia?
JA: I wanted it to be saucy, sassy and subversive.
LAT: Your design is full of humour. Where do you get your sass?
JA: I’d like to blame my mother, but I think it’s probably all my own demented brain.
LAT: Do you have any other exciting collaborations or projects in the works?
JA: I just launched my second collection with The Shade Store, and there’s another super exciting collaboration coming up. Unfortunately I can’t tell you more about it just yet — who knew the decorating world was so top secret??
LAT: What are five things you can’t live without?
JA: In no particular order: PG Tips tea, Lacoste polo shirts, Uniqlo white jeans, my TV remote, my rescue pup Foxy Lady, and my non-rescue husband, Simon Doonan.