Throwing shapes with potter extraordinaire and designer-du-decade Jonathan Adler

Have a sneaky peek inside the magical world of Jonathan Adler at his headquarters in Manhattan. ACHICA Living hangs out with the inspirational Adler  – he shows us how to throw a pot, we have a snoop around his bookshelf, admire his manifesto, meet his team and play with five cute Adler office HQ dogs!

‘We believe you should throw out your BlackBerry and go pick some actual blackberries,’ is one of the points on the Jonathan Adler Manifesto on the wall at his New York headquarters. ‘We believe tassels are the earrings of the home,’ is another company gem. This fun and creative manifesto sets the tone for his friendly and fun HQ. Touring his office and studio was a real treat and it was a joy to meet such creative people who were so warm and welcoming.

[Photo above: Jonathan preparing the clay in his studio in New York, photo by Emily Peck. Below: Jonathan Adler in his office, photo by Cecy J]

Going to the Jonathan Adler headquarters in New York is a bit like stepping into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Yes I'm sure this has been noted before, but there's an unmistakable likeness as an explosion of colour and imagination hits you as soon as you enter past the 'groovy' doorway. There are even five little dogs, including Jonathan’s very own dog Boogie, milling around like little oompas loompas.

As Jonathan showed us how to throw a pot, his dog Boogie looked on "taking it all in". Jonathan changed into his special pink studio Crocs and began to throw an owl pot. Here’s a few of his musings while he was on the potter's wheel, creating the owl…

“When most people see our work, I think they think it just exists. They don’t realise that everything we make at Jonathan Adler starts here. As we were looking at a piece the other day Edwin (studio potter) said the most brilliant thing. As he and I were looking at a pot I said to Edwin, modestly: ‘Why does that piece look so good?’. Edwin replied: ‘Because it looks like it's just supposed to be that way’. I thought that was a profound way of putting way - our work here is uncovered rather than created. If  people think that our work just exists, I take it as a compliment, as it’s supposed to be that way. Unfortunately, a lot of work goes into making it look that way.” Jonathan Adler.

[Photo above: Jonathan Adler donning his pink Crocs, photo by Cecy J. Photos below: Boogie the dog watches on in the Jonathan Adler studio as he throws a pot, and Edwin with Stanley the dog, photos by Emily Peck]

“The clay needs to be centred – I need to control it, rather than vice versa.” Jonathan Adler.

[Below: An owl being made in Jonathan Adler's studio photo by David John YHBHS]

"I started making pottery when I was 12. I’m a spiritually bankrupt person, but I do have a spiritual connection to clay. When I started making pottery as a kid, I just thought ‘this is it’. Many of my favourite potters are English including Barbara Hepworth and Bernard Leach. I have visited St Ives and was ready to move there. It was the summer and the weather was perfect. But the next day it was 40 degrees and started to pelt with rain and I thought ‘this is why I don’t live here." Jonathan Adler

[Above: Emily Peck from ACHICA Living was lucky enough to meet Jonathan Adler]

“What I think is incredible in England and underrated is Poole Pottery. I love the techniques the company uses. There really is such an incredible tradition of English pottery!” Jonathan Adler

“Describe my average day? I’m very lucky that my days are diverse and fun – I make what I want. I get up at 7, read the paper, chat with the hubby, go to the gym, make a pot, have a meeting, pet a dog, yell at some employees.” Jonathan Adler

“My secret tip for anyone wanting to be a potter? Marry rich! When I started I worked at a cooperative studio called Mud, Sweat and Tears, and I would teach classes at night in exchange for studio space – I feel like I’ve done my bit.’  Jonathan Adler

[Above: The Adler team -Arielle Trop and Benjamin Brougham - just check out Ben's fabulous Prada shoes!]

“My biggest challenge is editing, rather than finding inspiration. There are more things that I want to make than I have time to. People ask me where I get inspiration – everywhere, all the time – in travel, in my sleep and I’m lucky to work with a group of talented people." Jonathan Adler

[Above: Jonathan Adler's homeware accessories in his New York HQ, photos by Emily Peck]

Thanks to Jonathan Adler and his team for the cheese and wine get together and showing us round the Jonathan Adler HQ. Thanks to homeware and lifestyle brands MieleBlancoPoggenpohlSamuel HeathSpirit of SportsScholtesDuverre HardwareVictoria & Albert Baths, Modern Aire, Jenn AirVitra (image below), Axor, Wallunica and Ethan Allen for sponsoring Modenus BlogTour.The World. Designed. New York City.

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Emily Peck, Editor

View all posts by Emily Peck, Editor