Opened strategically near New York’s D&D Building, multidisciplinary designer Jonathan Adler’s latest space, at Lexington Avenue and East 58th Street, is the brand’s first interior designer-centric showroom, and at 6,500 square feet, also its largest store to date. Adler, who began his career as a production potter, didn’t take on his first major interior design project until the Parker Palm Springs hotel in 2004. “My takeaway from the Parker?” he asks. “Decorating’s not for sissies.” To that end, Adler’s company is joining the ranks of retailers like Serena & Lily and The Shade Store in extending an invitation to the trade for increased collaboration and introducing customers more deeply into the design process.
Serena & Lily has been integrating designers’ needs into its brick-and-mortar stores’ services, such as by providing space for private appointments, client meetings and presentations in the brand’s various locales, including stores in Los Angeles and San Francisco; Wainscott, New York; and a flagship in Westport, Connecticut. It has also been reaching out to consumers via staffed designers who provide on-site design assistance.
The Shade Store, in the process of a rapid, nationwide expansion, restructured its trade program last year, recognizing that a third of its customers are designers, the company began offering a photo-rendering service (as well as a tiered loyalty discount and COM on drapery and Roman shade orders).
Beyond the standard trade program, the staff at Jonathan Adler is a key component of the value the brand is now striving to provide to designer and consumer alike. Staffers are on hand to create floor plans and renderings, provide styling that incorporates both Jonathan Adler product and outside product, conduct site surveys, and provide e-mail and phone support to clients. The store does COM; many of its products are available in hundreds of upholstery choices and dozens of hardware and material finishes; and a Design Your Own Program pairs consumers with design specialists who can help create custom-designed case goods, pillows, rugs and throws.
Stocked with the largest assortment of Jonathan Adler furniture and lighting in the country, as well as a mix of vintage pieces from the designer’s own collection, the store-meets-showroom “display[s] the breadth of our collection in vignettes so people can see how the pieces work together,” explains Adler. “As an interior design company ourselves, we understand designers’ needs,” explains Adler. Part of that is to reinforce to the client the impact design can have on a space. “We’re here to provide exceptional service and to make designers’ jobs easier.”
Among the brand’s followers are designers Andrea Monath Schumacher (“I’m always checking in to see what next and new,” she says) and Chad James (“We often use Jonathan Adler candles in our design projects—their scent is fresh and reminds me of home! They also have the best pillows, and their unglazed pottery is another accessory go-to for us.”)
Other direct outreach with designers includes a recent Open Houzz celebration introducing Houzz designers to the space, with more partnered events to come in the fall. “We host events for local designers at our showrooms across the country, and I love speaking at design shows around the world. The design community are my peeps; as I get older and older, and older and older, it’s nice to connect with the millennial movers and shakers in the design world,” Adler shares.
How does the role consumers play contrast with that of designers? “Interior designers are passionate, knowledgeable customers who live and breathe design. They understand references, time periods, and construction techniques in a way that the general public might not,” answers Adler. “But at the end of the day, I’m just happy when anyone loves my stuff as much as I do.”