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Today, the iconic designer Jonathan Adler and neon brand Yellowpop are debuting a new line of lights. For the collaboration, the duo dreamt up designs that represent Adler's take on modern American glamour, and exemplify his artistic visual language in a new medium. Infusing bright colors and motifs that are equal parts groovy and indelible, the new styles offer a take on Adler's iconic pill design, multiple faces, and eyes.
Whitewall spoke with Adler about this new collection with Yellowpop, how his career moved from pottery to design, and why more is more.
WHITEWALL: Tell us a bit about your designs for Yellowpop. Why did you choose these motifs to re-create in neon form?
JONATHAN ADLER: For years, I've had a neon-shaped hole in my heart so I was thrilled when this partnership with Yellowpop came about. I wanted the collection to feel authentic to my oeuvre, so I chose styles that felt familiar to the Jonathan Adler universe, but created using an entirely new medium.
WW: What is your favorite style?
JA: It's a real "Sophie's Choice," but if I had to pick just one, it would be the eye. I have a thing for eyes. I like to look around my home and see eyes staring back at me. A neon eye feels like we just leveled up.
WW: What was your very first design like?
JA: I don’t remember what I made, but I’m sure it was bad! I first tried pottery at age 12 and it was a real "aha" moment for me. I’m not a spiritual person, but I felt a connection. I went to college at Brown University but really spent four years next door at the Rhode Island School of Design making pots. One of the first projects I ever made in school were these teapots inspired by Chanel, Versace, and '90s hip-hop. I still have them at my home on Shelter Island and they always make for a good conversation piece.
WW: You designed the Parker in Palm Springs. How does it feel to design a space vs. designing a product?
JA: The Parker Palm Springs is a magical place, and I’m not just saying that because I designed it (twice!). It's a totally different process. With a property, my main goal is that it has a real sense of place, like you couldn't be anywhere else except for where you are. The Parker just oozes Palm Springs, old Hollywood glamour. It’s a little bit hedonistic and a lot glamorous.
WW: What is your design process begin for a space? A product?
JA: I'm a potter first and foremost. It's still very much at the center of my business and it's where I go to work out all of my ideas. The vast majority of my products—and projects—start at my pottery wheel and take shape from there.
WW: Where do you feel your iconic aesthetic came from? What is it a combination of?
JA: The way I describe my aesthetic is "Modern American Glamour." I strive to make things that are modern and I hope I capture the optimism that I think is at the core of the American sensibility. And then I always want to reflect my clients as the most glamorous version of themselves. Glamour, always.
WW: You began your career as an artist by creating ceramics and have evolved to designing much more. How do you feel your artistic expression has evolved most?
JA: The evolution was organic. It was serendipitous. My journey was all about stumbling along as I went, and I think that’s the best way to roll. The design and creativity lead the business. My only real interest and focus has been on making groovy stuff and groovy spaces. I’m a restless designer and the more I make the more I want to make.
WW: A quintessential "Jonathan Adler" design is a juxtaposed aesthetic of patterns and colors, while being playful and smart, and glam yet relaxed. What do you feel your "secret sauce" is for your iconic designs?
JA: My husband calls me Arianna Kafka. I’m half bubbly pop princess, half brooding philosopher. I may sound glib, but the truth is I’m deadly serious about design. My formula is 99 percent classicism, 1 percent witticism.
WW: If we were to feature you in your "I Want!" series online, what would be included?
JA: Right now, I'm obsessing over our new Riviera Lounge Chair. They're upholstered in this fab ivory boucle that is my 'it' fabric for the decade and then outfitted in our take on a classic rattan. The end result is a Palm Beach-inspired chair that looks fab anywhere. I'm also currently lusting over all things ripple, country-pop music (shout out Miranda Lambert), and the month of June. If Saturday is the best day of the week then June is the Saturday of the summer. Freedom Moses sandals are my summer foot-cover of choice; I want them in every color.
WW: Has the pandemic impacted the way you view your creativity and/or design work at large? If so, what changes may we see?
JA: I was extremely lucky to spend my lockdown at my home on Shelter Island and I had never been so inspired by nature. I would look out the window and see a white egret fly by, a fox poking around our backyard, and a sunset that was a technicolor fantasy. A lot of my collections following lockdown were a real homage to Mother Nature and channeling the trippy wonders of the natural world.
WW: Do you think about your legacy when designing?
JA: The truth is that I don’t design anything thinking of creating a legacy. I just make what I want to make and hope that people love it as much as I do.
WW: What are you working on next?
JA: More products, more projects, more glamour. More, more, more.