In the latest bizarre design news, lifestyle guru Jonathan Adler has been tapped to design toilet paper covers for Cottonelle. Yes, you read that correctly. Toilet paper covers. For Cottonelle.
Adler’s bold, energetically patterned interiors and cheeky home décor products (think ironic needlepoint and chartreuse lacquer) have been thrust into the limelight over the past few years, and after his 2007 hosting stint on Bravo’s Top Design, and the rash of Jonathan Adler store openings in 2010—including one on North 3rd Street—he’s become something of a household name. And now that household name has wriggled itself into your bathroom.
I think it’s great that we’re injecting design into the smallest crevices of our lives, and I’m all for making good design accessible to the masses. But I fear that it’s starting to get a bit ridiculous. There’s a reason brands like Chanel, Cartier and Hermes have endured, and it’s not because they slapped their name on every toilet paper roll that came along. They remained covetable, perhaps even unattainable. It’s true you can’t compare a $9,000 Birkin to most of Adler’s offerings—prices range from $18 (a porcelain mug) to $6,675 (a sectional sofa). But with Adler’s “happy chic” brand now at Barnes & Noble, Macy’s, Target and on Cottonelle’s website, it seems he’s heading into serious over-exposure territory.
I remember buying my first piece of pottery from Jonathan Adler about six years ago. His stuff was a sort of status symbol: You were riding the new wave of mod, happily unserious design, ironic without being hipster, glam without being overwrought, like Palm Beach on acid. His stuff wasn’t as easily recognizable then, and you certainly couldn’t find Jonathan Adler laptop sleeves and pencil holders at Barnes & Noble. It seemed, somehow, special. And that is precisely what’s missing now, even though his designs are still smart and gloriously over-the-top as ever.
What’s next? Hermes lending its iconic orange to Q-tips? Chanel’s interlocking Cs on tampons? Allegra Hicks creating a pattern for Kleenex? It’s a slippery slope in this hyper-designed world, and nothing is safe.