loves “tchotchkes,” jonathan adler

This weekend’s Wall Street Journal ran an article entitled “The Anti-Depressive  Apartment,” about designer Jonathan Adler’s “kaleidoscopic New York digs…” Being an amateur, a “wannabee” decorator, the colored photos stopped me from immediately turning the page. Studying the details in each picture, reading the accompanying captions, and finally viewing each in its entirety, I decided Adler’s design was “over the top,” too much for my taste. I love eclectic furnishings, which he seems to as well. But we definitely differ in what we mix and match. 

A potter, Jonathan Adler’s home is filled with “tchotchkes:” a large, black  rhinoceros sits alongside a coffee table, atop which stands a pair of white ceramic dog sculptures, facing one another. On the other side of the coffee table, is an orange sofa. Resting on matching, white end tables on either side of the sofa, are a pair of lamps whose bases are busts of gold horse heads. A white, ceramic squirrel keeps company with books, on one of two bookcases against the back wall. On the top shelf are a pair of charcoal color, Egyptian-looking goat heads. The other bookcase sports a white, ceramic, duck, simple in its lines.

Decorator pillows complete the kitschy style. Matching, red with black stripe armchairs hold round pillows, one orange, the other teal blue. Both are inscribed with the word “pill.” Across the floor, on the other side of the coffee table is a black, heavy plastic chair with a tall back and plexiglass legs. A red, square pillow, a forearm with closed fist on its front, is outlined in black. On the sofa are two, rectangular, white pillows, trimmed in black with hands, finger pointing, as if toward one another. Between them sits a square, teal blue pillow, a peace sign emblazoned on the front in a dark-grey outline.

Other rooms in the decorator’s home are just as kooky. What’s beguiling is that Jonathan Adler’s career, as a highly sought-after interior designer, was one of happenstance.  

SEVERAL MONTHS AFTER SELLING a cache of striped pots to his first retail account in 1993, Jonathan Adler wondered why he never got paid–until, that is, the buyer informed him that he never sent in an invoice. Mr. Adler’s response: ‘What’s an invoice?’

Now founder and creative director of an eponymous home-decor empire, Mr. Adler, 44 years old, refers to himself as an ‘accidental entrepreneur.’ His privately held company now has 12 boutiques and expects to see a 50% increase in revenue this year. ‘It is all completely unexpected and it took a lot of work,’ he says.

 My take on Adler’s success? “Wha? Wha? Wha?” It boggles my mind how some people “hit it big,” and the rest of us are still trying to turn rocks into pearls, not even diamonds. I’m not even challenging his taste. After all everyone’s entitled, and he’s obviously acquired quite a following, which got him 12 boutiques, and full-page coverage in the WSJ. So who am I to talk? God bless him. No envy here, just wondering. At 61, I don’t have the energy to “hit it big.”

Watching the video below did not convert me to Adler’s decorating “genius.” On the other hand, it did make me a fan of his partner’s style. Simon Doonan, creative director of Barney’s New York, also uses eclecticism in assembling vignettes for the store’s windows. The look, which appeals to me, is edgier. I like edgy, kitschy, not so much.

Adler and Doonan make a great couple. A decade apart in their ages, they’re alike in their serious work ethic, their kooky tastes, and their unpredictability. They abhor “boring beige.” They’re both anal in their attention to detail. Adler indicating that getting the handle perfect on a teapot, can be tortuous; Doonan explaining that he edits and re-edits a column he writes, trying to get it exactly right. Completing their family is an adorable Norwich Terrier named Liberace.

I identify with these gay men, their eccentricities, their zaniness, their “joie de vivre,” their obsession to details, their need to “get it right.” And then there’s Liberace. A pet whose soulful eyes remind me of my Mocha. 

I may not see “eye-to-eye” with Adler as regards to interior design, but I do understand his anger with California’s change of heart in recognizing gay marriages. Doonan, his spouse, is more philosophical saying that they need to “suck it up,” and continue to “fight the fight,” keeping their eye “on the prize,” and maintain their resilience. I’m sure their attitudes reflect many in the gay community. As with couples who are straight, conversation should begin and end with who gays and lesbians are as people, not what they do in the privacy of their own bedrooms.

hugs for a couple trying to live their best lives…hugmamma.