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Q&A with Jonathan Adler

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Photo credit: Courtesy of Jonathan Adler

Style innovator Jonathan Adler recently set up his chic shop in Brompton Cross, London. From interior and textile design to furniture and accessories, Adler infuses 'Happy Chic' into his designs. We caught up with the American artist to discuss British fashion, his favourite London haunts and what's currently on his design radar.

This is your first international boutique! How exciting! Why did you select London?
I am a RAGING Anglophile! I did a semester at University College in London in 1988 and fell madly in love. At the time it was still kinda getting over the 70s hangover and was a tidgy bit Dickensian--gray, bleak, nothing to eat. Now it's like a different place, all dynamic and twinkling and posh and deluxe. It's as if Disney came in and made it the perfect version of London, at least in the posh bits.

What is your favorite thing about London?
The food!!!! The old stereotype about inedible British food has been shattered! When I went in the 80s, I had to go stay with a "real" English family for the weekend as part of my orientation. They shipped me off to Stoke on Trent to stay with a family who were incredibly sweet but were right out of a Mike Leigh movie. I'll never forget the first dinner I had with them. "Tea" was at 5:00 with the telly on and we had Shepherd's Pie (mashed potatoes with a coupla' bits of gray beef sprinkled on top), string beans (I think they were string beans--they were gray and tasteless but kinda' resembled the shape of string beans?), and, wait for it, mashed potatoes on the side! Now the food is sublime! I live for the roast chicken at The Ivy. Yum!

American versus British fashion. What's your take?
This is a really exciting moment for British Fashion! There's so much color, pattern, vibrancy--all the things I love! I particularly love the collections of Erdem, Christopher Kane is a genius, and those insanely beautiful prints by Mary Katrantzou really float my boat. I think that Punk Rock in England opened the floodgates for creativity and the magic has never stopped flowing. Vivienne Westwood, Zandra Rhodes--j'adore! Emma Hill at Mulberry has a playful, chic sensibility--joie de vivre and chic hedonism--that I relate to. And, there's always Sir Paul Smith. I worship him.

What do you hope to bring to stylish London homes?
London homes are already pretty damn stylish, but I like to think that Brits will appreciate and relate to my commitment to craft and color. I am inspired by so many English artists and designers, from the majestic purity of Lucie Rie and Hans Coper to the flamboyance of Nicky Haslam and David Hicks to the dreamy hues of David Hockney's paintings.

Do you have any favorite British hot spots?
I'd be perfectly happy to be imprisoned in the V & A for the rest of my life as long as my jailers hurled the occasional roast chicken from The Ivy in for sustenance.

What's on your design radar right now?
Navajo prints and Art Deco. Design trends are very strange---when you think you hate something it means you are about to fall in love with it. This might sound really codified and insidery, but Navajo / Aztec prints are all about triangles, and triangles have been out, out, out as a decorative motif for years, I think because they were so totally identified with 80s New Wave culture. But now they look fab. In the Interior Design world, Art Deco has been a 4 letter word for about 20 years. The original feel of it--chic, classique, original--was eclipsed by the 70s Deco revival which has bad Disco associations. Now I'm looking at it anew, loving the purity of line and form, the feeling of speed and modernity. Love it!

Define your design style in three words.
Style. Craft. Joy.

What inspires you?
I find that question almost impossible to answer because I am inspired by squillions of things. I try to keep my eyes and my mind wide open.

Any fun collaborations in store for the future?
Yes! I'm about to launch my collaboration with Lacoste as their guest designer for their annual artist collaboration. It's been an amazing project and I'm off to Japan to celebrate.