April 28, 2015 Jonathan Adler x Alexis Bittar
Both known for their unique style and love for their Moms, Alexis and Jonathan recently went on a Soho shopping spree to their boutiques to find the perfect gift for Mom. See what the designers said about how their Mom's impacted their careers and why they're still inspiring them today.
How would you describe your mom in five words or less?
JA: Irreverent, hilarious, creative and embarrassing.
AB: Mine’s intellectual, artistic, modest, sophisticated and I would say unexpected.
So as a continuation of that, what have you inherited from your moms? Because I feel like I’m hearing these words and can apply many of them to each of you.
AB: I would say patience and she balanced creativity very well with academics.
AB: She was a teacher, she had a doctorate in American history and then she was really into science in the 70s, the late 70s.
JA: My mommy, what did I inherit from her? Most definitely irreverence— AB: Her clothes. [Laughs]
JA: Yes, her clothes. I feel like my I would like to think that I’m in some ways sui generis or self-created but I’m not I’m 100% a byproduct of my parents—like I am my parents and my parents are me, its all one thing. So my mom is me—inherently.
Both smart ladies, I like it. So on that note, what’s the best advice your mothers ever gave you?
JA: The best advice my mother ever gave me was, when I opened my first store, which is where your store [referring to Bittar] now is, she said ‘Oh god, please don’t do that.’ And it’s because she’s very risk-averse and so I was like ‘Oh, I’m doing the right thing.’
AB: When I won the CFDA, she was super happy that I won, but she said ‘the most important thing is to stay humble and grounded. And I actually think there’s a lot to that—
How has your mom influenced your aesthetic?
AB: My mom had a total appreciation for antiques and really kind of spent the time, because she was a professor, just teaching me kind of classical antiques, Deco, Chinese sculpture, everything that I—I feel like I’ve used that in the jewelry. It just I think because she was a professor, it’s been ingrained in my brain.
JA: For moi, so my dad was a very sort of rigorous modernist, he was a lawyer as well but an artiste and he was very into design that was very minimalist, Knollian—everything in my house was Knoll. But my mommy has a very TK visual sensibility, so she made macramé curtains and always sort of embraced color and has a very TK sense of style and so I am between sensibilities, like minimalist with some super color.
How did your mom inspire your career and where you are today—or not?
JA: For me I would say, I think we both have had preposterous careers, like it’s insane that we’re still standing because we’re both doing things that are risky and not things that necessarily go on to be successful, so for me, my mom was just really supportive when I decided to become a potter 20 years and that’s everything—she could have very well said, like, get a job.
AB: So my mom I guess like your mom, while she was getting her doctorate, had two young kids and my dad was getting his doctorate they were both designing dresses so each one of them designed in a completely different aesthetic and the design was kind of couture, handmade silk dresses so seeing them create something and really as a little kid witness that just kind of goes into the recess of your mind so you’re able to create as well, so I think on some level that helped. But then my parents were completely not into me designing jewelry. I mean I was a dropout, so they were not into that—the idea that I was selling jewelry, they were like really you’re going to sell jewelry? And I’m also selling big, glowing Lucite jewelry and at the time it was—
And then how would you describe your mom’s style?
AB: My mom’s really simple, elegant—I threw modest in the first answer but she’s very understated, actually doesn’t like to draw attention to herself, but very elegant.
So does she wear your jewelry Alexis?
AB: My mother doesn't wear jewelry any more due to her illness. But my Dad tells me that she takes my pieces out regularly and sits admiring them. She's very very proud.
JA: My mom is sort of neutral, solid color clothing, you know—100 percent Alexis Bittar jewelry.
Does your mom decorate with your pieces Jonathan?
JA: Yes, she does.