Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan in their Shelter Island home featuring Adler’s Voltaire lounge chair, Maxime sofa, Brussels handwoven rug and Menagerie large horse.
Jonathan Adler has imagined a vibrant, magic world on Shelter Island with his husband, Simon Doonan.
The chic couple’s pool with decking by Trex, hanging chair by CB2 and landscaping by Vicki Cardaro of Buttercup Design offers an impressive view.
“I DON’T KNOW WHERE TO BEGIN,” says Jonathan Adler (jonathanadler.com) when asked what he loves most about his magical life on Shelter Island. “Right now I am staring at the sea, looking at a little bird perched on top of a beautiful Japanese palm and the osprey is hunting. I could literally just like turn to dust and be content,” he says. “It’s just my dream place. I swim laps. I jump on my paddleboard. I go biking and hiking. We have a joke that every day out here is like a vintage tampon commercial—where you throw on your white jeans and go horseback riding and biking with the light glowing amber. It’s like Shelter Island is the land where nothing bad could ever happen. And no tea, no shade to the Hamptons—but when I get on the South Fork, it’s just slightly more tension, lines, parking, traffic.”
A painting of FoxyLady presides over a Jonathan Adler Torino Triangles bowl, Reform three-drawer chest and Doonan’s upcoming book, Transformer: A Story of Glitter, Glam Rock and Loving Lou Reed.
The retreat is a place for Adler and husband Simon Doonan to decompress from their hectic lives. Author and fashion commentator Doonan will soon release his latest book (Transformer: A Story of Glitter, Glam Rock and Loving Lou Reed, HarperOne Books), while Adler continues to build his eponymous brand. The profoundly prolific potter has built one of the most iconic interiors brands in the industry. This summer, Adler returned to his roots in Soho opening a new flagship atelier. “We’ve opened a really incredible and cool kind of new concept called Atelier Adler,” he shares of the spectacular space on West Broadway between Spring and Broome streets. “We’ve taken over a whole building, and we have my design office on the mezzanine, our corporate offices on the lower level and on the main level is a retail store and my pottery studio. So it’s really an incredible new thing for us and great to be in New York City. I am thrilled to be part of what I hope is a huge rebirth of Soho,” he says. “And the best news of all is that I can have lunch at Cipriani every day!”
In the living room a Jonathan Adler Maxime sofa and St. Germain club chair mix with a vintage cocktail table, chandelier and side table by Harvey Probber over the Jonathan Adler Brussels handwoven rug.
“IT'S JUST MY DREAM PLACE. I SWIM LAPS. I JUMP ON MY PADDLEBOARD. I GO BIKING AND HIKING. WE HAVE A JOKE THAT EVERY DAY OUT HERE IS LIKE A VINTAGE TAMPON COMMERCIAL— WHERE YOU THROW ON YOUR WHITE JEANS AND GO HORSEBACK RIDING AND BIKING WITH THE LIGHT GLOWING AMBER. IT’S LIKE SHELTER ISLAND IS THE LAND WHERE NOTHING BAD COULD EVER HAPPEN.”
Tiles custom designed by Adler and art by Jean-Pierre Clement offer a counterpoint to vintage Platner chairs in a velvet by Kravet over a Jonathan Adler Peter reversible Peruvian flat-weave rug.
In the dining room, vintage pendants from a Paris fl ea market and a site-specific work by John-Paul Philippe pair with Jonathan Adler Caprice dining chairs and a Saarinen Tulip table from Knoll topped with a Jonathan Adler Metropolis extra-large vase.
The designer has also added his personal punch to Palm Beach, recently revamping the Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa with a vibrant refresh. “I love Palm Beach because it’s singular,” Adler offers. “Palm Beach is like lemon sorbet for the soul. It’s a an all around palate cleanser,” he says.
In the bedroom, tile customized by Adler, Jonathan Adler Eyes beaded wall art and a vintage George Washington portrait customized by Doonan add an eclectic mix to a couch, chair, cabinet and lamp, all by Jonathan Adler.
The common thread is how a sense of place clearly informs different aspects of Adler’s aesthetic. “I’m an eclectic designer,” Adler admits. “I think Shelter Island represents my artisanal, crafty side. I am first and foremost a potter and very focused on craft, artisanship and natural materials. All the stuff that I have made for my house here [in Shelter Island] is slightly earthier. I did all sorts of custom tiles and hammered brass… lots of handmade pottery. It’s more emblematic of the crafty side of me. And then I think Palm Beach addresses another one of my design voices which is slightly more, glossy, glamorous, colorful,” he explains. “For me, Palm Beach is about bright yellow, mint, cobalt, fuchsia— and of course lime green. So that inspires some different elements of my work.”
Crafty or colorful—we’ll take a punch of Adler’s personality any way.
In the bedroom, Jonathan Adler Rondo dining chairs and Palm Springs pottery make for an artful retreat.
Primelite pendants and outdoor pillows by Jonathan Adler add a punch of personality to the courtyard.
Jonathan Adler answers our burning questions...
WAKE-UP TIME: 7:30AM
UNIQUE TALENT: I can speak backwards. It might mean something is wrong with my brain, but I’ve always sort of seen words backwards.
WEAKNESS: Baked goods
AESTHETIC: Modern American glamour. Modern—because it is fresh and new. American because to me—as a huge patriot—I think the spirit of America is about optimism. And I think my work is grounded in American design and American optimism. And I say glamour because I hope to create it.
UNIFORM: White jeans, silver Stan Smiths, Thom Browne sweater
CHERISHED ACCESSORY: I think I’ve always thought of my husband as a cherished accessory. Maybe it’s his size.
YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH: Simon Doonan
WORKOUT: Like a teenage athlete, compulsively, aggressively, not terribly peacefully. So I’m not a yoga or Pilates guy. I’m a ‘lift weights and run’ guy—at least an hour a day, or else I go insane.
LAST MEAL: Fried chicken and apple pie. As I said, I am an American.
FAVORITE MOVIE: A ’90s movie called Safe directed by Todd Haynes
MENTOR: I’ve never had a mentor. I’ve had a series of tormentors who have been wildly helpful to me by telling me I can’t do things.
STYLE ICON: A young David Hockney
BEST ADVICE: I hate good advice. I guess the only good advice I’ve ever gotten is for a job: Show up 10 minutes early and leave 10 minutes later than you’re supposed to.
MANTRA: If your heirs won’t fight over it, we won’t make it.
CATCHPHRASE: Always telling my poor long-suffering operatives ‘more, more and more.’ I’m endlessly restless, hungry, curious and wanting more, more and more all the time.
CURRENT OBSESSION: Contemporary country music
FAVORITE APP: Pinterest
FAVORITE SNACK: My favorite snack is more! I snack constantly—more, more, more—hence the working out like a high school athlete.
SOULMATE: My husband of almost 30 years, Simon Doonan. He’s obviously the one—but there’s a close second, which is our dog, FoxyLady.
BEDSIDE READING: Right now I’m reading Stefan Zweig, Beware of Pity. I appear to be a superficial, plucky designer, but I have the soul of a brooding, pessimistic, Kafka-esque intellectual.
THEME SONG TO YOUR LIFE:‘Eye of the Tiger.’ We used to listen to it before our high school tennis matches to get pumped.
Photography by: PHOTOGRAPHED BY GIEVES ANDERSON