one of the world's most celebrated designers, world-class potter, tastemaker extraordinaire, HGTV's Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge
Designer, potter, author, and tastemaker extraordinaire Jonathan Adler launched his namesake brand after leaving his day job to pursue his first love: pottery.
After growing up in Bridgeton, New Jersey, Adler discovered an interest in pottery at summer camp when he was 12 years old. This interest in art was further enhanced by his father's own interest in painting as a hobby. When Jonathan later attended Brown University, he studied semiotics and art history, but spent most of his time at the nearby Rhode Island School of Design making pots. His RISD pottery, including Chanel inspired teapots and Sevres inspired urns, reflected his interests in pop culture, early hip hop culture, contemporary art, and fashion. His professor told him: "You have no talent, you need to leave and give up on your dreams and go become a lawyer. After graduating, he spent three years as an assistant in the entertainment industry before returning to pottery, despite his former teacher's disapproval. He said in a 2013 interview that "...every creative person, and every craftsperson, should have a naysayer to rebel against."
In 1990, Adler started teaching classes at Mud, Sweat 'n' Tears in New York City in exchange for free studio space. With those pots on hand, he cold-called the buyers from Barneys New York, received an order, and became a full-time production potter. In 1993 he founded Jonathan Adler Enterprises LLC. He started as a production potter, producing on his own for years. He later worked with Aid to Artisans, a non-profit organization that works to help artisans in developing countries by connecting them with decorators in America. While in Peru visiting pottery studios, he was inspired by South American textiles and started designing pillows, throws, and rugs inspired by the work he found there.
Adler opened his first store in SoHo, Manhattan in 1998. Now, the design company has retail locations worldwide, a thriving e-commerce site, a full slate of residential and commercial projects, and a global wholesale business that strives to create luxe and livable interiors that are seriously designed (without taking themselves too seriously). Adler has handled the interior decorator work of several commercial and residential projects. In 2004, he decorated the Parker Palm Springs Hotel, the former Merv Griffin's Resort and Givenchy Spa property in Palm Springs, California. In 2016, he refreshed the hotel, extensively redoing the property including installing a seven-foot-tall bronze banana on the main lawn. Other projects include 225 Rector Place, Abington House (on the High Line), multiple related property apartment designs and a 2015 overhaul of the rooms, hallways, and outdoor areas at Eau Palm Beach. In 2020, he designed luxury cabanas for the Dreamworks Waterpark located at American Dream in East Rutherford, New Jersey. In 2022, he opened Atelier Adler, a retail-meets-creative studio experience in NYC’s iconic Soho neighborhood. In 2023, he celebrates 30 years of Modern American Glamour with his namesake brand!
He speaks at home interior industry events and design-centric museums, such as IDS, IDS West, KBIS, and the Mint Museum. He has appeared as a guest on Good Morning America, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and several other national programs.