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Trendsetters at Work: Jonathan Adler

Trendsetters at Work, Jonathan Adler Jennifer Cooper, E!

When we got the opportunity to tour Jonathan Adler's famous headquarters in New York City, we practically squealed with delight and started singing "I've Got a Golden Ticket."

After all, the world-renowned interior designer, author and all-around joy-maker has an office with an in-house pottery studio where Pomeranians roam free. So it makes perfect sense that Jonathan has dubbed his HQ the "Fantasy Factory."

We caught up with Jonathan, who opened up about his storied career, including the best piece of advice he's ever received and why he credits his former professor who told him he was talentless as one of his heroes.

Also find out what kind of scented body wash Jonathan swears by and the one color he can't stand. So go on, keep reading, and get your joy fix with Jonathan Adler.

NEWS: Trendsetters at Work: InStyle

What was your very first job?
My pottery professor in college said I had no talent for pottery, so after school I moved to New York and worked at a talent agency. I hated it.

What was a main turning point in your career?
When I started I was a production potter, making every single piece with my own two paws. After four years of working seven days a week I took a trip to Peru where I found a beautiful workshop by the sea with incredible artisans who could help create pieces from my molds. It freed me to be even more creative and design more things.

Who are some of your career heroes?
My pottery professor who told me I had no talent. It was the best advice I never took. Every creative person needs a naysayer to rebel against.

Trendsetters at Work, Jonathan Adler Jennifer Cooper, E!

What's the closest thing to a "typical workday" like for you?
I'll run from a meeting with our sales team to discuss a new account to the pottery studio where I'll throw some new pots to a meeting with our Design Director to pick fabrics for new furniture. I'm so fortunate to be able to do what I do and to be surrounded by fun, creative, talented people. 

Between an in-house pottery studio and the presence of puppies, your office sounds like a veritable fun factory! What was the thought behind the design of your workspace?
I call our HQ the Fantasy Factory.  We have an insane library of books and magazines and fabric swatches and sketches. Because I spend so much time working with the design team, I made the desks higher than most offices—I can walk up and easily work with them and pop from person to person. And it's all open space. I want everyone to collaborate and share ideas and expertise.

How often do you redecorate?
My office gets redecorated whenever there's a new piece from our collection I love. Which is every piece, all the time. It's constantly changing.

How often do you work in your pottery studio?
I'm in there every day—it's where I work out all my ideas.

How many dogs are in the office on any given day?
100? 200? I think there are around five that come every day. Our general office philosophy is the more Pomeranians the better.

NEWS: Trendsetters at Work: GQ

Trendsetters at Work, Jonathan Adler Jennifer Cooper, E!

List five things that are on your desk right now.
1. Iced tea with milk (I call it the "Jonathan Adler"—I'm trying to make it happen.)
2. A tape measure for impromptu design meetings.
3. A pair of sunglass from my collaboration with TOMS.
4. Straws from Starbucks—I am constantly crinkling them. My assistant always nabs a few extra for me.
5. About 10 pieces of brass from our collection. They're chic and twinkly.

What one joyful item in your office makes you the happiest?
A framed photo of my hubby Simon and our pooch Liberace.

Is there any color that you really can't stand?
Mauve.

What music is the soundtrack to your workday?
I have the musical taste of a 13-year-old girl. Whatever's the number one song on the radio is my favorite.

What do you typically wear to work?
I always wear skinny white jeans from Uniqlo—they fit great and they hide clay splatter.

NEWS: Trendsetters at Work: Teen Vogue

Trendsetters at Work, Jonathan Adler Jennifer Cooper, E!

What would your next dream collaboration be?
I'd love to design a car, inside and out.

What's the best piece of career advice you've ever received?
It came from my dad. He said, "Never ask anybody for advice. You don't want to hear it, and you probably won't follow it."

Finish the sentence...

Every morning I make myself a cup of...PG Tips tea.

The first website I log onto every day is...Slate.com.

The grooming product I use every day is...My grapefruit body wash.

Today for lunch I had...Chicken paillard and polenta cookies.

When I need a quick break during the day, I usually...Pet a Pomeranian.

If I could blink and transport myself to any place in the world this instant, I would go to...Capri.

If I wasn't doing this job, I would be...Miserable.

The best part of my job is...Creating things that add style, craft, and joy to people's lives.

PHOTOS: See Jonathan Adler goodies and more in our vacation essentials story

 

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