The award-winning designer talks hotel mini-bars, his go-to jet lag cure, and the importance of white jeans.

By Kara Mayer Robinson
February 06, 2016
2013 Getty Images
Cindy Ord

With 30 stores from Miami to Tokyo and collections from home furnishings to men's neckwear, designer Jonathan Adler is in a constant state of motion. But he wouldn't have it any other way. His peripatetic side is satisfied hopscotching the globe, while his hermetic self is happy as a clam in New York, where he runs his SoHo-based company and has time to indulge his passion—tinkering in his pottery and design studio.

The devotee of all things chic, irreverent, and bold sat down with T+L to talk Asian design inspiration, hotel mini-bars, and conquering jet lag.

Does travel inspire your designs?

Endlessly and limitlessly and fabulously—yes. Spending time in India has inspired brass collections and textile collections. In China, I met people who make incredible porcelain. Travel is wildly inspiring to me.

Where do you love to visit?

My biggest treat is shopping for clothing in Japan. I hate to shop, except for when I'm in Tokyo. My favorite store is Ships. My true work-free place is probably Amangiri, in the Utah desert. I'm not a spiritual person, but I kind of think that if heaven exists, it would look just like Amangiri.

Next to the Parker Palm Springs lobby, which you designed, what's the best hotel lobby in the world?

The Parco dei Principi, by Gio Ponti, in Sorrento. It is so completely itself and grounds you in the fantastical surrealism of the Amalfi Coast.

Best restaurant?

Da Giorgio, in Capri. When I'm in Capri I eat the exact same thing for every meal, which is linguine with lobster. I try to mix it up and I fail.

What's your go-to travel ensemble?

The nice thing for moi is that I have a uniform. I only wear white jeans, every single day—Uniqlo skinny white jeans. I have about 40 pairs. For funerals, weddings, country clubs that don't allow jeans, you name it—it's a white jean and usually a Lacoste shirt.

Which items are always in your carry-on bag?

I'm afraid they're just like any other contemporary person: an iPad, Purell—nothing intriguing. I always rock a Tumi. I did a collaboration with Tumi last year. I'm the leanest, meanest packer on earth. I never check luggage—ever.

What are your other rules of the road?

Steer clear of mini-bars but treat yourself to hotel laundry. It's been drilled into me from my childhood that you just can't touch a mini-bar. But hotel laundry is a life-changer. It's a fortune and it's worth it.

Do you have a jet-lag trick?

It is a drug called Nuvigil, and it's the best thing that's ever happened to our planet. It is basically a sustained-release upper. I take it in the morning and I slice through the day with unimaginable levels of lucidity and verve. I might be in southern China, where it's cold and gray, but I just see rainbows and unicorns.