Maximalist Auteur Jonathan Adler Explains the Giant Wooden Shoe on His Desk

When the designer and ceramicist received a two-foot-long sculpture of a wingtip in the mail, he knew just the place for it.

More than a decade ago, a workshop in Indonesia wanted to do business producing some of my designs. To convince me, they took it upon themselves to blow up one of my small ceramic sculptures of a brogue into a giant wood sculpture and send it, unsolicited, to my office in New York. 

It only half worked: Our partnership never happened, but the brogue has followed me from office to office ever since. Why? Extraordinary things make an impression. 

That’s been the guiding principle in my work. I hope to make things that will surprise and inspire, things that people will drag with them from desk to desk, house to house.

The sculpture is a reminder of the fact that something as mundane as a wingtip can be made magical through scale. I’m always looking at the stuff around me, finding inspiration in the quotidian. 

Nothing has to be as it seems. That pesky brogue reminds me to be surprising, to be memorable—and not to worry about putting my shoes on the table.  


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