Jonathan Adler is a potter. No, no, not that kind of potter.
For a start, he’s very successful. Just opened his eighteenth store, hundreds of employees, and all that stuff.
But he’s not a big fan of following typical corporate systems and planning models. Strategy and branding? Meh!
On a Behance presentation he stresses the importance of not listening to others and staying true to your creative goal, your creative mission.
Adler preaches keeping other people’s opinions out of your creative process and attributes his success to his disdain of focus groups and feedback.
Strategy and branding can become a prison and limit opportunities. They can hold you back from moving forward. If you let the what drive the why, all you can do is trim supply chains and whittle down costs. It’s no way to get through life.
Adler realized that his business wasn’t really about numbers. That’s just how you keep score.
Adler might be a potter but his work goes beyond the mere practical and utilitarian. He had a revelation when he understood that the message of his works was beyond the visual and tactile vocabulary, and communicating a spirit. He figured out what he was trying to say with his work.
Yes, his work is chic and beautiful and well crafted. But more importantly it shares a spirit of optimism and irreverence.
And that spirit can be applied not just to pottery but a whole bunch of different stuff. Pillows, interior design, giant brass bananas.
That spirit can be applied to anything.