Jonathan Adler Preps Your Kids for the Design World

At Sunday's New York International Gift Fair, potter-turned design-maven Jonathan Adler released a new line of furniture. Everything was shiny, cheerful, colorful, poppy, bright, and accessible enough to be manageable, without ever getting either overwhelming, or overwhelmingly boring. There were throw pillows and rugs, armchairs and bookcases. In other words, it was totally Adler.

With just one catch. This was the launch of Jonathan Adler Junior, a new line of Adlerian products designed just for the design-happy whimsical-enough color-craving children of the parents with the resources to kit them out. Kids hoping to turn their worlds into Adler's will have to wait until May, when the line properly hits stores, and official word is that the company is "treating this as a teaser collection and will be expanding it in the future" (assuming all goes well?).

And there's a reason everything looked totally JA: "The Junior collection features furniture pieces identical to our regular collection only scaled to children." Items include Peruvian llama rugs, needlepoint pillows, baby alpaca throws and pillows, wallpaper, clocks, and mirrors.

So. How young is too young to start decorating? Legends abound in architecture schools of the kids who were building with legos in the womb, or the ones that drew floor plans of their bedrooms (yours truly, guilty as charged.) The idea seems to be that there's some innate bug – the design bug – that people are either born with or can catch. And while most of the anecdotal evidence that I've come across suggests that it's an interest people are born with, it's entirely possible that lines like Jonathan Adler's will, slowly and gently, encourage kids to start thinking about design.
Dan Wieden, the ad executive who runs Wieden + Kennedy here in Portland, spoke earlier this week at a conversation hosted by Portland Monthly Magazine. And in that talk, speaking about his offices designed by architect Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works, Wieden talked about architecture as operating essentially the way your body does: it's a physical separator, marking the distance from yourself to the rest of the world.
Design functions the same way; it's a physical manifestation of the ways in which we feel about ourselves (take, for instance, the eternal-and eternally decorating-bachelor), and the chance for kids to be able to jumpstart that process is something that shouldn't be taken lightly. Something like the introduction of Adler's line can operate as a free-ing agent, something that helps kids come up with a sense of their own potential, as designers, and consumers.
Jonathan Adler has the same idea "Jonathan Adler Junior is meant to fire up kids' imaginations," he says. "I love happy emblems like lions and giraffes and hearts rendered in beautiful and crafty techniques--woven llama, baby alpaca, needlepoint, porcelain-and bold saturated color. Color is educational!"

All photos courtesy of Jonathan Adler.

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