Fun on his mind

Amer­i­can de­signer Jonathan Adler pro­vides a touch of kitsch to the preppy La­coste polo.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - By SHARMILLA GANESAN star2@thes­

JONATHAN Adler is all huge smiles and sparkling eyes as he strolls in for our in­ter­view. The Amer­i­can home fur­nish­ings and in­te­rior de­signer is un­de­ni­ably preppy and boy­ishly hand­some in a La­coste polo shirt, up­turned jeans and sneak­ers.

De­spite a long flight from the United States and a whirl­wind few days of events and in­ter­views in Tokyo, Ja­pan, Adler is warm and friendly, even ask­ing en­thu­si­as­ti­cally about Malaysia. Re­ally, he is a walk­ing poster boy for his own de­sign aes­thetic, a vi­va­cious, con­tem­po­rary yet time­less style he dubs “happy chic”, that in­cor­po­rates vi­brant colours, funky mo­tifs and a de­cid­edly quirky sen­si­bil­ity.

“But I’m not at all a happy per­son!” wails Adler when asked if “happy chic” is a re­flec­tion of who he is. “In fact, most of the time I’m grumpy and mis­er­able!”

What does make him happy (be­sides his part­ner Si­mon Doo­nan and their Nor­wich ter­rier Lib­er­ace), is work­ing with his all-time favourite fash­ion brand (he’s worn it since he was 10!), La­coste. So when he was of­fered the chance to cre­ate the la­bel’s sixth Hol­i­day Col­lec­tor’s Se­ries, it is safe to say Adler was pretty much over the moon.

“Are you kid­ding? When they con­tacted me, I was like a kid who was given an ice-cream truck! I’m La­coste’s big­gest fan! So of course I leapt at the op­por­tu­nity,” he shares dur­ing our chat, af­ter the Hol­i­day Col­lec­tor’s Se­ries launch in Tokyo.

The Se­ries is an an­nual tra­di­tion that be­gan six years ago, where a guest de­signer from out­side the fash­ion in­dus­try is in­vited to reimag­ine the iconic La­coste polo shirt, com­plete with pack­ag­ing, by im­bu­ing it with their own de­sign sen­si­bil­i­ties.

With his rep­u­ta­tion for im­pec­ca­ble craft­man­ship and a unique sense of de­sign, not to men­tion his pas­sion for La­coste, Adler seems like the per­fect choice. Start­ing off as a pot­ter 18 years ago, the 45year-old cur­rently heads an in­ter­na­tional de­sign com­pany of­fer­ing fur­nish­ings and dec­o­ra­tive ac­ces­sories, all fea­tur­ing his sig­na­ture com­bi­na­tion of Modernist forms, bold colours and groovy graph­ics. Bring­ing to­gether el­e­ments like the op­ti­mism of mid-cen­tury de­sign and the kitschy colours of pop art, Adler’s

“happy chic” con­cept is built on the be­lief that your home should make you happy, and hap­pi­ness is chic.

His cheeky motto? “If your heirs won’t fight over it, we won’t make it.”

A highly sought-af­ter in­te­rior de­signer, Adler has worked on pres­ti­gious projects like the Parker Palm Springs Ho­tel, as well as the retro-glam in­te­rior of the “real” Mal­ibu Dream House for Bar­bie’s 50th an­niver­sary.

His be­gin­nings as a crafts­man, how­ever, con­tinue to colour ev­ery­thing he does, and to this day, most of his prod­ucts in­cor­po­rate tra­di­tional crafts like ce­ram­ics, brass and needle­point, al­beit with a con­tem­po­rary twist. And when he started think­ing about his Hol­i­day Col­lec­tor’s Se­ries, some­thing about the nostal­gia of these crafts im­me­di­ately con­nected with La­coste.

“When I think of La­coste, I think of the Amer­i­can, preppy, coun­try club style. And the prep­pi­est of hob­bies in the US is needle­point. The piqué fab­ric of La­coste polo shirts, too, have al­ways re­minded me of needle­point. So I de­cided to take my needle­point pat­terns and ap­ply them to the iconic La­coste logo. What I wanted to do was evoke the nifty, sporty feel­ing of Amer­i­can coun­try clubs in the 60s,” ex­plains Adler.

Us­ing needle­point, he adds, also al­lows him to change the per­cep­tion of the art as be­ing a “fancy old lady’s pas­time”.

“My grand­mother used to needle­point, and as a child, I was al­ways fas­ci­nated by the bold and geo­met­ric pil­lows she made. Un­for­tu­nately, in the last 20 years, needle­point has been kind of bor­ing. It used to be about bold pat­terns and colours, but it’s be­come about bor­ing beige pil­lows de­pict­ing cocker spaniels. So I de­cided to go back to the groovy roots of needle­point.”

When asked if this foray into fash­ion was chal­leng­ing, he says, with his sig­na­ture self-dep­re­cat­ing smile: “Maybe I have an in­ap­pro­pri­ate sense of hubris, but it was kinda easy. To me, de­sign is de­sign. I’ve al­ways been re­ally, bor­ingly con­sis­tent; I just do what I want!”

To bring “happy chic” to the Hol­i­day Col­lec­tor’s Se­ries, Adler’s idea was to take the iconic im­mensely fa­mil­iar La­coste logo and over­lay some of his favourite pat­terns and colours from his own needle­point pil­lows. A di­ag­o­nal stripe at the bot­tom of the shirt fur­ther in­te­grates colours from the logo and adds a sporty feel.

“The great thing about do­ing this project is that it gave me a lot of room to play around. With some­thing as iconic as the La­coste crocodile logo, you can do a lot of things and peo­ple will still recog­nise it,” says Adler.

The re­sult is three dif­fer­ent types of polo shirts within the se­ries, each

amer­i­can de­signer Jonathan adler has brought his sig­na­ture ‘happy Chic’ aes­thetic to the La­coste hol­i­day Col­lec­tor’s Se­ries #6. ‘When I think of La­coste, I think of the amer­i­can, preppy, coun­try club style. What I wanted to do was evoke the nifty, sporty feel­ing of amer­i­can coun­try clubs in the 60s,’ says adler.

The Spe­cial edi­tion green polo shirt for men.

The Spe­cial edi­tion pink polo shirt for women.

The Limited edi­tion pink polo shirt for women from Jonathan adler’s La­coste hol­i­day Col­lec­tor’s Se­ries #6, fea­tur­ing an over­sized crocodile logo and match­ing side stripes done in needle­point.

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