Jonathan Adler Wears Birkenstocks (And Other Fun Facts About the Poster Boy for Happy Chic)

Jonathan Adler is in town to celebrate the grand opening of his new McKinney Avenue shop, so, as a follow-up to our Q&A in the May/June issue, I sat down with the designer for another chat. His hubby Simon Doonan joined us briefly before heading across the street for some lunch at the T Room.

After strongly recommending the brie and cranberry panini (and doing so with full knowledge of Doonan’s staunch opposition to all things panini; it’s just that good) and perusing the goods, I launched into some hard-hitting questions for JA.



Here’s what I learned:

  • 1. Jonathan Adler loves Big Sur. He loves it, lives it, breathes it — well at least 50% of  the time. Oh and (given my own fondness for this particular stretch of Northern California), he strongly recommends I add The Sandpiper to my Netflix queue stat.
  • 2. The other 50% of the time he’s drawing on his preppy east coast upbringing.
  • 3. He’s spent the bulk of his life reconciling these two completely opposed aesthetic sensibilities, which accounts for the Dorthy Draper meets Ladies of the Canyon mash-up happening in his designs.
  • 4. Every vase in his line starts on his pottery wheel. He still throws pottery. Frequently. He calls making pots “his only skill.”
  • 5. He has an older brother and sister and refers to himself as the “youngest, dumbest, and happiest” of the trio. (I say he’s charmingly self-deprecating.)
  • 6. He still wears Birkenstocks (they were a mainstay when he first met his husband 17 years ago), and his preferred style is the Milano in hunter brown.
  • 7. He loves pop country — Eric Church is currently on heavy rotation.


I told you…I grilled the guy. I went all Woodward and Bernstein on him.

I also took a boatload of snaps of the new space, which you can view after the jump. Enjoy.











  • Kim

    Love the personal touch to this unconventional interview, Joslyn! I can’t wait to visit the new shop. 🙂

  • K

    Do you mean “self-deprecating,” or should we be worried for Mr. Adler’s health?

  • K
    Yes, that’s exactly what i meant (damn that wordpress spell check). Thank you! All fixed.
    For the record, he seemed in excellent health!