1097 Madison Ave.
In every Jonathan Adler store, there's the handwriting on the wall. It's excerpts from this housewares designer's droll manifesto, such as:
"We believe that when it comes to decorating, the wife is always right. Unless the husband is gay."
"We believe celebrities should pay full price."
And, of course, "Take tambourine lessons."
Adler, a 39-year-old design wunderkind, has embraced as his life's mission reconciling happiness with chic, thwarting the forces of self-conscious hauteur and the high-humor-lesness of "good taste" whenever he can.
Only 11 years since his first pottery order from Barneys, Adler presides over a burgeoning empire, now seven stores strong, that sells everything a homeowner with a soft spot for whimsy could desire. Choice items: the famous pottery collections; mid-Century, modern-inspired, comfy furniture; lacquer-ware; acid Chinoiserie; and platinum glaze piggy banks.
Because the objects themselves are so decorative, the Adler team really doesn't need to do much visual allure. Aside from the shiny-finish Hollywood-Regency inspired cashwrap, and some of what Adler calls "fancy-pants drapes" that cordon off niches for various collections, most of the stores, like the newest one on Madison Avenue, are simple in terms of structural interior design, with wall-to-wall seagrass carpeting, the manifesto quotes on the walls and accents from their unconventional wallpaper collection.
The ever-changing atmosphere results from the in-house stylists constantly moving things around as furniture and merchandise is sold.
Not surprisingly, certain location demographics favor certain merchandise. The graphic woolen textiles are more popular in SoHo, the white-on-white pottery more popular at the beach. Platinum glaze is big in SoHo during the holidays but sells everyday uptown. "We knew we had an Upper East Side customer from our Hamptons store," says Adler vp Louis Marra. "We just never expected the extreme spike in needlepoint pillows."
Client: Jonathan Adler, New York
Leslie Degler, interior designer
Darren Brown, interior designer
Architect: Kevin White, Brooklyn, N.Y.
General Contractor: Prospect Development Corp., Scarsdale, N.Y.
Audio/Visual: Bose Corp., Framingham, Mass.
Flooring: Integrity Floor Co., Ridgewood, N.J.
Wallcoverings and Materials: BK Wallcovering, New York
Photography: Courtesy of Jonathan Adler, New York