Jonathan Adler: Mad about color

We love Jonathan Adler’s knack for lighting design. We have used his line in several client projects. I recently read a great Q&A with Jonathan that made me smile. This is reposted from The Washington Post January 29, 2011, by Jennifer Barger.

Call Jonathan Adler the sultan of sunny and the don of Day-Glo. The color-mad designer popped onto the scene in the 1990s, throwing (and selling) trademark mid-century mod pots at Barneys. Since then, he’s launched a line of Hollywood Regency-meets- “Mad Men” furnishings and accessories (and a chain of stores) and served as a judge on Bravo’s “Top Design.” In the fall, he he came out with two books, “Jonathan Adler on Happy Chic Accessorizing” and “Jonathan Adler on Happy Chic Colors” ($18 each, Sterling). We caught up with him to chat about the one color he doesn’t love, his go-to neutral and his thoughts on minimalism. Excerpts:

Q: Lime sofas, orange walls, pink rugs – have you ever met a hue you didn’t think worked in interior design?

A: It’s funny; I love color. I think it’s a complete antidepressant! I think people should throw out their Prozac and OD on color. But I can’t imagine myself ever loving mauve. I like my colors crisp and bright.

Q: How can people use color, rather than abuse it, at home?

A: It’s a tricky business. The key is to choose a palette or color values that work together. There are certain schemes that always work: Gray, orange and white can be repeated ad infinitum.

Q: Is color something you should match to your personality or hair color?

A: I think it’s a form of nonverbal communication, so maybe. There are certain associations that come with color, like if you want to send a message of danger or sexiness, use red. Colors have meaning, and to some degree, if you are in touch with who you are, you can use color to reflect that.

Q: Are there any colors on the way out or in?

A: For the last several years, it’s been all about chocolate brown, and I’ve liked putting it with pops of color. But lately, I’ve been cheating on it with gray. Gray is amazing because it looks fantastic paired with bright colors.

Q: What inspires your furniture designs?

A: Millions of things. In terms of inspiration, it’s really vast and odd. I could be inspired by some groovy skateboard graphic, or I sometimes wake up with things that come to me in my sleep.

Q: What’s your design philosophy?

A: I’d call it happy chic. It’s my belief that your home should make you happy.

Q: And you’re quite down on minimalism.

A: It’s a bummer! But having said that, I’m a minimalist when I design objects. I believe that design should have an economy of gesture. I don’t believe in gilding the lily. But in interiors, I’m a maximalist! It can be constricting to your spirit to not surround yourself with the stuff that you love.

Q: What are your basic rules of combining accessories?

A: The most important thing is just to start. So often people think there’s a magic answer, but that’s not the case. Get a bunch of objects and start to play with them. There are go-to formulas, like starting with symmetry. Asymmetry is more challenging but can have greater rewards.

Q: How should people decide which accessories to buy?

A: If you think it’s something that your heirs will fight over, splurge.

Angela Todd Studios For Custom Furnishings

Angela Todd

Owner & Principal Designer

Angela is the principal designer at her boutique interior design firm in Portland, Oregon. She is known for creating memorable backdrops that tell the story of fascinating and intricate lives.

Explore our Portfolio

Angela Todd Studios Oregon Coast