Cap City nesters have loved colorful interiors since George Washington decked out Mount Vernon in Yankee Doodle bright blues and otherworldly greens. Jonathan Adler, the midcentury mad hue master, puts a new twist on that idea with his rainbow of retro pots, Regency-gone-rad upholstered sofas and witty rugs. Adler just opened a Georgetown shop (1267 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 202-965-1416) and published “100 Ways to Happy Chic Your Life” ($25, Sterling Signature).
Why did it take you so long to come to D.C.?
It took a long time to find a place in Georgetown, which is an area I just find so singular. I’ve always felt like it had the right architecture and vibe for one of my stores.
Why does your stuff sell well here?
There are many different facets to my oeuvre, ranging from groovy and modern to updated WASPy, and I think they resonate in Washington.
How would you describe your style?
It’s funny, a lot of people might say I’m a maximalist, but the truth is I’m a minimalist. I design a product, but I hope I know when to stop.
You’ve always been a big cheerleader for color. Why do you love it so much?
It’s the most effective antidepressant in the world. I say to overdose on orange, not on Prozac. I appreciate the optimism that strong colors communicate.
Do you have a favorite color?
Orange and turquoise are two colors I just can’t quit. But they need to be used carefully. It’s best to choose a scheme in which there are some neutrals and a strong accent color.
What’s the next hot hue?
For many years, chocolate brown has been all the rage. But I think gray is hugely important now, too, and it looks great in all its iterations. It’s a sombre anchor for bright pops of color.
Humor and wit are a big part of your designs. Why?
I think people are a bit too serious in their homes. My mission? To make them seem a little more glamorous and eccentric than they might think that they are.
OK, so what’s the secret of making people’s homes tell an interesting story?
Start with a classical foundation and then add tiny, playful punctuations. Like, right now, I’m looking at a porcelain sculpture of a devil head, which we sell as a lamp. Having a devil on your shelf is provocative!
You’ve designed hotels, tote bags and Starbucks cups. Is there anything you won’t create?
I’m not a snob in any way, so no. I have this missionary zeal to make everything better. Whatever object one interacts with should be as good as it can be.