Friday, February 4, 2011

My Night with Jonathan Adler

A numeric overview of what I took away from the Jonathan Adler presentation on his new book Happy Chic at the Darien Library

1. Presentations normally bore me after 15 minutes, I tend to black out and then come back in cycles throughout, but I really enjoyed this one and managed to be super attentive the entire time (like a child, I know...). JA was so candid and honest, he took the normal formalities completely out of the equation, and rather than speaking TO us, it felt more like a conversation. He had me laughing at the very beginning when he compared his experience at two different resorts in the Bahamas, which ultimately led him to begin his 'Happy Chic' movement. His husband Simon took him to the Ocean Club which was so perfect and luxurious in everyway, but compeltely "joyless" at the same time. He and Simon were lacking so much JOY that they went to the Atlantis which seemed so happy with families laughing and everyone having bundles of fun. They loved the Atlantis other than the fact that it was the furthest thing from 'chic' they had ever seen. It was then that JA decided that he needed to combine the Chic and the Joyful, and 'Happy Chic' was conceived, right there at the Atlantis resort.

2. He spoke a lot about how was fired from all his jobs out of school because he was a horrible employee and how all he wanted to do was be a potter (I can relate even though I haven't gotten fired...yet). He took six months during his unemployment period, rented a pottery studio and created all day every day until his pieces were bought from Barneys. I kept raising my hand to ask how he got Barney's to buy up his collection but too many questions in too little time... :(

3. I really connected with his message about the interior playing such an important role on the human pyche, hence his new book series 'Happy Chic'. He likes to keep things playful and light, and very witty. There is so much dark in the outside world, why not play up the happy in your interior? :) :) I also very much agreed with how the decorated home should not feel snobby, which sadly I think happens too often when people get their homes decorated -keep it real people!

4. Someone asked the question if he references art history in his creations, and indeed he does. He is an avid studier of Art History (like me :)) and he admitted to being majorly into connoisseurship which totally shows in the quality of his work.

5. I came away with anxiety which is fortunately and unfortunately (yes, at the same time) a very common side effect when I am majorly inspired. I threw my endeavors up in the air and looked up at them, ALL of them, and asked, 'Am I doing everything right or wrong?'. My burning question is this: JA was a very talented potter, he developed his pottery to such a high quality art form that it was bought by Barney's. With that one order, he developed a successful line, and grew his career to what it is now. I am still trying to find that one craft that I can perfect like mad to grow my business, but in the meantime am creating anything and everything I can get my hands on that is to me, reflective of my brand, Shorely Chic.

So I end Carrie Bradshaw style with the question, is mastering one art form the key to a successful and lasting career in the home decor retail insustry, or anything for that matter? I think so, what about you?

Thank you Jonathan Adler for coming to my little town in Connecticut and inspiring the heck out of me, and oh, go buy the book everyone!


  1. this is great. and theoretically, yes, i think you do need to know one art form really well. BUT, knowing a little of everything is helpful too. so then, we are back to your question.
    its a vicious circle.

  2. Love the Carrie Bradshaw mention.. I don't think anyone can master any particular thing because well, that would mean they were perfect but you can absolutey be knowledgeable! ;)

  3. How fun to meet JA himself! I met him once in New York at a gift show and felt so ridiculously star struck (meanwhile husband had no idea who he was! : ) Some people just don't understand this little creative world we live in! I think the key to being successful is finding that one thing that you are absolutely passionate about. Which may just be "creating" in general!


  4. Met Jonathan also, nice guy and certainly quite the talent. As far as mastering one art form, I personally believe you can be multi faceted with maybe a concentration in one area......he is a true inspiration...thanks for this insightful post..glad I discovered new to blogworld!
    Please visit me at my new blog about the building of our new home and my passion for decor/design (right up your ally)

  5. Interesting as my husband worked for Atlantis and we stayed lots in both of their hotels. I preferred the Ocean Club. It is restful. But now I have JA items in my like "happy."
    Mary Ann

  6. Lucky you!!! I would have loved to have gone to that:)

  7. I'm like you, I normally zone out when I'm at a presentation. But it's a good thing you stayed focused on Jonathan Adler's presentation, because from the sound of it took a lot of of good advice and inspiration away from it :-)

  8. Great write-up, Liz.
    I think JA like many other successful designers had his starting point. In his case it was pottery. In Ralph Lauren's case it was men's fine ties. Dianne Von Furstenberg had the wrap dress and the list goes on. Once they established their connoisseurship they then could branch out into other areas.

    Really great food for thought!

  9. Sounds like a great event, we all need inspiration and encouragement. Thanks for stopping by !