Jonathan Adler is Bravo's Top Design judge for the second season in a row. In addition, his company continues to grow and features furniture, pillows and bedding among other items; one store is located at 676 N. Wabash here in Chicago. He stopped for a few minutes to discuss his life.
Windy City Times: Hi, Jonathan! Thanks for taking time out to sit down with Windy City Times. So how did your journey into interior design begin in the first place? You started with pottery, correct?
Jonathan Adler: Totally. I first started doing pottery at summer camp and that was kind of it. That was the beginning, and it stuck.
WCT: Did you go to school for it?
JA: I didn't. I went to Brown and took a bunch of classes at RISD [ the Rhode Island School of Design ] , the art school. Probably one of the seminal experiences was when my pottery teacher told me that I have no talent and that I should give up.
After leaving pottery and then returning back to it, I decided to make the stuff I love and not pay attention to anyone else's opinion. I just started making pots and showed them to Barney's. I got an order and it has just grown over the past 15 years.
WCT: And then you were able to make your own business, which is amazing.
JA: Very unexpectedly.
WCT: Now how did you get involved with the show?
JA: The good people at Bravo just gave me a ring, and I was so there.
WCT: And you are on your second season of judging Top Design. Do you think there will be a third season?
JA: I hope so. It's really fun.
WCT: Describe your living space to me.
JA: My place is eclectic and quirky. It's full of my stuff and a bunch of other insane stuff. Because I work in the visual world and Simon, my better half, is the creative director of Barney's and their window dresser, we both have a very high tolerance for extreme visual stimuli. So I would call our house amped up! Modern mixed with baroque with a little bit of art from our friends and some window props. There is a constant procession of new bits that I have designed and made.
WCT: Do you ever clash with your husband, Simon Doonan, about how your place should be decorated?
JA: Believe it or not, there are no bitchy fights.
WCT: I just know friends that will fight over where a picture frame goes.
JA: It's a common problem, and it's odd that we never have any hissy fits. We are almost always on the same page.
WCT: Do you have some tips for the average decorator?
JA: My biggest tip is to only buy things that are incredible and that your heirs will want to fight over. I think the biggest mistake is that people buys things that are just okay. Everything in your home should be extraordinary and mean something to you.
WCT: My favorite quote from you is 'see you later, decorator.' What happened to that from the first season?
JA: We have revamped the show and, now, India Hicks is our fearless leader. She has her own line now.
WCT: Yeah, she says, 'We can't live with your design.' Yours was very clever, though. Tell me more about your business. You have a location in Chicago. Do you visit us a lot?
JA: I come a few times a year. I live in New York.
WCT: Do you do a lot of decorating for Halloween?
JA: We don't. Simon and I are very bad people because our lives involve so much decorating that we don't really do anything to our house for the holidays. The only thing we do for Christmas is that we have these amazing Christmas ornaments from the Liberace museum and they are still in their original packaging materials. We put them on either side of the mantlestill in their box [ es ] and it induces feelings of holiday glee.
WCT: That makes sense that you must want to come home and relax. I saw you have a blog on Bravo's Web site. Where else can people see more of you?
JA: I have a Web site, www.jonathanadler.com, and I am about to open my eighth and ninth stores in a couple of weeks, one in Santa Monica and one in Manhattan.
WCT: Well, you are so busy.
JA: Better busy than not.
Top Design's busy season is almost over with the season finale Wed., Nov. 5. Tune in to www.bravotv/com for more information.