A leader in early childhood development and one of Mattel Inc.’s top brands, Fisher-Price earlier this week announced the appointment of designer, potter and author Jonathan Adler as creative director. As part of a multiyear partnership, Adler will consult with the brand on style direction, which will be executed by its designers as well as outside product partners, for children ages 5 and younger. His work will debut this fall in Fisher-Price baby gear, newborn toys, crib bedding, nursery decor and infant apparel, with much more to come the following year.
Mark Zeller, Fisher-Price SVP of design, who jokes that Barbie introduced him to Adler after the designer’s work on her 50th anniversary, says: “After our first meeting in his offices in NYC, we immediately felt he gets us! We’re both irreverent in our own ways. We were immediately struck by his perfectionism and attention to detail—we have that in common. In that meeting, he referenced Fisher-Price classics like the Rock-a-Stack and Corn Popper as retro items that he personally felt inspired by. Having him respond to our iconic design felt great.”
Fisher-Price’s Activity Elephant and Deluxe Take Along Swing & Seat
Adler answered a few of EAK’s burning questions:
You have a number of unexpected collaborations; how do you choose which brands to collaborate with?
I have a refined, highly scientific selection process: I work with whichever companies tingle my chakras. Seriously, I’m fortunate to get approached to work with a lot of cool brands that are doing cool things. I can be picky and only say yes to those that intrigue me creatively.
How did the Fisher Price collaboration come about? Can you share your first planned products?
They’re fans of my work and my aesthetic, and they gave me a call. Voilà! Fisher-Price is such an iconic company, and I wanted to help make products that are as memorable for the next generation as they were for me growing up.
There’s a range of modern baby gear—a sleeper, a bouncer, a high chair—launching in September that looks great, if I do say so myself. They’re graphic, they’re chic, and you won’t mind having them out in your house.
Adler at work
Have you ever designed toys before? Tell us about the product development process.
Fisher-Price is the expert on early childhood development, so I work with their design team on color, pattern, materials and finishes, and leave the product development to them. The collection marries what I do best with what they do best.
What else is on your design bucket list as far as non-home categories?
I’d love to design a car, inside and out.