You often tell of your pottery teacher dismissing your talent in college. How did you overcome the rejection? “I wanted to be a potter and my pottery teacher at RISD [Rhode Island School of Design] told me I had no talent, so I left with my tail between my legs. I think that having someone tell you you can’t do something is a fabulous incentive to do it.
The best thing about me is that I’m completely unemployable. And that was proven by the fact I was fired from five jobs in a row. Making a career as a potter was a preposterous idea but when I had no choice, it was the one skill I had.”
Who makes your products? “Many of the pots [...] are made by Peruvian craftsmen. I was a production potter about 18 years ago and I was burnt out from making pots all day long. Then I stumbled on the NGO Aid to Artisans and it changed my life. I found people to help me with my production.
“I found this one dude in India who’s a bead artist. With these [beaded pillowcases] I sketched what the eyes would look like, and I knew that this guy could bring a dimension that no one else could.
“And I’m doing a lot of lacquered goatskin in Vietnam – there are a lot of crafty skills there and a lot of soul.”
You named products in one of your pottery collections after famous muses. Do you have a muse that inspires your work? “My dog, Foxylady, of course, and, without sounding too clichéd, my hubby, Simon [Doonan].
“At the risk of seeming like a deep and spiritual person – neither of which is true – when you have a good marriage and a good dog, nothing else really matters.”
Tell us about the materials you’ve been experimenting with for your latest collection. “I’m using lots and lots of Lucite; I love it! It’s magical! There are innate limitations with clay that can drive a potter insane, and I’ve been on a quest to break free of these. Lucite is the answer. Do you see the light refracting off of it [points to a Globo box with Lucite lid; above] and that colour?”
Why did you expand into furniture design? “A friend asked me to decorate her house in the Hamptons, so I did. Then I opened a store and I thought I needed furniture to fill it. As a pottery designer, I always imagine my stuff in a residential context so it seemed natural to make the other bits and bobs that go into a room.”
Have you designed any interiors in Asia? “No, but if anyone is reading this and they’d like for me to do a hotel or hospitality project, please call me.”
Jonathan Adler was in Hong Kong to promote his products, which are being sold at Lane Crawford