IT'S AN IDYLLIC Friday morning at the Shelter Island home of Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan. Really—the sun is shining, it’s a breezy 70 degrees, birds are cheerfully chirping, water is lapping on the shore. The couple’s mixed-breed rescue, FoxyLady, is on patrol, and she sounds the alarm when I enter through the slightly ajar front door. “I let myself in,” I say as Adler, the renowned the potter and designer, rounds the corner from the backyard. “As you should!” he replies enthusiastically. It’s that kind of place. And Foxy seems to have accepted my presence, for now.
I’d seen photographs of the home before—indeed, it’s been shot so many times that when I later mention I saw it in an advance copy of a book to be released this fall, Adler didn’t even recall it was being included—but photographs can’t really capture the levels of detail, the earthy colors and the excitement within. The open living room is divided into sections by seating—a couch with a small flat-screen TV embedded in the wall here, a sitting area surrounding a table holding one of Adler’s signature banana sculptures there, two hanging swings in a corner—eBay finds, Doonan tells me as he and Adler demonstrate the oscillation. And at the center, a large, round fireplace with a hanging hood anchors the room. In fact, that day they’re waiting on a professional to stop by and work on the fire. “It’s never been quite as raging as we’d like,” Adler says, perching on the side. “It’s the centerpiece of the house, and it’s not as vital as it should be. This woman is a fire whisperer,” he adds. “She only does fireplaces and fire pits, and this is a really specific engineering issue.” Apparently, she does all of André Balazs’ fire.
The couple is not precious about the home, and it’s an ever-evolving project, with pieces from Adler’s collection constantly coming and going. “We’re not very anal retentive about it,” says Doonan, the British fashion personality who is currently finishing up a book celebrating the overlapping worlds of soccer and style, due out in time for the World Cup in 2018. “He makes stuff, boxes it up, tries different things, lives with it, moves it in. We just got a new couch in our bedroom because he made a new couch. People ask, ‘Do you argue about decor?’ And I’m like, ‘Are you joking?’ We’re not those queens! Because he’s a designer—I’m not.” In this regard, Adler refers to Doonan as his “poor, long-suffering husband,” but Doonan doesn’t seem to mind the fluctuating furnishings. (Nor does Foxy.)
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