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Color Me Happy

Jonathan Adler Talks About His New Kids’ Collection

Jonathan Adler has been dabbling in nursery decor for a while now, in the way of piggy banks, ceramic animals, whimsical bookends and lamps. But coming later this spring is his first real foray into the kids’ world: Jonathan Adler Junior, a complete collection of wee-scaled furniture, plus accessories ranging from  pillows and clocks to rugs and booties. We recently caught a sneak peak of the adorable pieces at the New York International Gift Fair, and couldn’t wait to catch up with Jonathan on his inspiration for the new collection.
 
Q. Why kids—why now?
A. All of my friends keep having kids and I never can find the perfect gift. Jonathan Adler Junior is about a range of nifty gifties for babies and kids—alpaca letter pillows, snuggly throws with attached baby booties—that will fire up kids’ imaginations without breaking the bank.
 
Q. Until now, where have you had the most luck finding cool gifts for kids?
A. I love Giggle—such adorable stuff and so easy.  I also love Kido on 10th Street in the village. It was recently damaged in a fire and I hope it’s all better soon! It’s such a fab store. I always buy presents there for my 5-year-old nephew that have the perfect balance between education and fun.
 
Q. What else do you like to do with your nephew in the City?
A. I Love to go to Cafeteria in Chelsea with my nephew. We order the burgers. Luckily, most of my friends’ kids are getting old enough to kinda eat at a semi-normal time and at semi-normal restaurants. 
 
Q. How have the kids in your life influenced JA Junior?
A. One of my favorite things about kids is their brutal (and borderline uncivilized) honesty. My nephew was a fab one-person focus group. He’s so great and honest – maybe too honest at times. Jonathan Adler Junior has to be my very best stuff because, if it ain’t, kids won’t hold back their criticism. 

Q. From a design perspective, what’s different about creating a children’s collection?
A. As a decorator, I’ve had the opportunity to design lots of kids’ rooms, and they are the funnest and adorablest part of my job. Kids’ rooms are all about color and creativity and fun and make adults’ rooms seem so dreary and depressing, as if age sucks the lifeblood out of people.
 
Q. Did you draw any inspiration from your own childhood?
A. I grew up in a groovy modern house in a farm town in New Jersey, and the design was wildly inspirational to me. It was a combo of rigorous modernist furniture (my dad was very into Knoll and Design Research) and ebullient Marimekko textiles that my mom loved.  So that combo of rigorous modernism and a layer of color and pattern has totally influenced my design aesthetic and can be seen in Jonathan Adler Junior.
 
Q. What are your hopes for how Junior will be received?
A. When I was working on the line I was constantly thinking of my own childhood and how some of the groovy bits in our house—a hand-hooked rug with a soldier, a groovy tapestry my grandmother bought in Denmark, a gorgeous Raku bowl made by a hippie potter in Woodstock—were totally talismanic (is that a word?  I think so . . . ) to me.  So Jonathan Adler Junior is kind of my attempt to give back. It’s my attempt to make stuff that will fire up kids’ imaginations and stoke the creative fires of tomorrow.

Jonathan Adler Junior
Available May 2010, in stores and at jonathanadler.com
Prices will range from $48 for a piggy bank to $1,195 for a gorgeous children’s armchair.