What To Know About HGTV Barbie Dreamhouse Judge Jonathan Adler

"Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge" marks HGTV's contribution to the current Barbie craze, but they're raising the stakes beyond bubblegum pink outfits and bedazzled cowboy hats. In this new competition show, eight teams of HGTV and Food Network superstars are turning a California home into a real-life Barbie dreamhouse.

While some of our favorite HGTV personalities are battling out in the special event, including Ty Pennington and Christina Hall, the show also features supermodel Ashley Graham as host and Jonathan Adler and Tiffany Brooks as judges. If you're unfamiliar, Adler is a hugely successful potter, author, and interior designer with over fifteen store locations under the Jonathan Adler brand.

Beyond this, Adler's collaborative history with Barbie makes him a perfect judge for the "Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge." From designing a celebratory Malibu Dream House of his own to becoming a creative director at Fisher-Price, Adler has led a pretty prolific (and Barbie-filled) career. Here's everything you need to know about this HGTV judge.

Adler is a professional potter turned designer

Those who are familiar with Jonathan Adler's work will likely know that he's well-established for his luxury ceramics. As explained on his website, the "Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge" judge began his design career in the '90s, leaving his job to pursue his lifelong passion for pottery. Alder launched his first collection in 1993, partnering with the luxury department store Barneys.

The interior designer opened the first Jonathan Adler store in 1998 and has since expanded his franchise to nearly 20 locations. Nowadays, his merchandise extends beyond pottery, featuring everything from art and décor to furniture and lighting. He's had major collaborations with brands such as H&M, Levity, and Amazon and his merchandise is sold in over a thousand locations.

Adler's qualifications go beyond his successful entrepreneurship, as the potter has also tackled several major design projects throughout his career. In 2004, he was hired to revamp the Parker Palm Springs hotel in California, returning in 2017 to refresh his original renovations. Adler also redesigned the hotel rooms of the Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa in 2016, snapshots of which can be seen on his website's blog.

He has experience as a TV show judge

HGTV's "Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge" isn't Jonathan Adler's first time appearing as a reality TV judge. The interior designer first debuted on television in 2007 as the lead judge for Bravo's "Top Design" series. The series, which followed interior designers competing for a position in New York's Designer Showcase, only ran for two seasons, but marked Adler's first foray into reality television.

In 2021, Adler made his HGTV introduction by serving as a judge on "Design Star: Next Gen," a spinoff of one of the network's most popular design competitions. For the series, he worked alongside Lauren Makk and a number of guest judges, including Jasmine Roth and Jonathan Scott. He also appeared as a guest judge on Netflix's "Interior Design Masters" in 2023.

Adler's husband, Simon Doonan is also a reality TV show judge. When he's not working as the Creative Director at Barneys NY or authoring books on design, Doonan can be found on NBC's "Making It," a crafting competition show hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman.

Jonathan designed a Malibu Dream House to celebrate Barbie's 50th birthday

Besides his ultra-successful career, Jonathan Adler is especially qualified to be a judge for HGTV's "Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge" because of his history with Barbie. In 2009, the entrepreneur was hired by Mattel to design a real-life Malibu Barbie Dreamhouse to commemorate Barbie's 50th birthday.

The house, which is shown off in a YouTube clip from AP Archives, served as the venue for the company's 50th-anniversary celebration. Though Adler didn't play with the iconic dolls as a kid, he told NPR that the design opportunity was a chance for redemption after chopping off the heads of his sister's Barbies.

"Barbie was a dream client because she doesn't exist as a person . . . She exists as fantasy and is the perfect client because she's always happy and fun and loves everything," Today quotes Adler. "I thought to myself, 'How would Barbie live?' I thought Barbie would have a house that is glamorous, kittenish, chic, colorful, and happy — as well as functional," he tells AP in the YouTube clip. 

He collaborated with Mattel to create a décor line

After designing the real-life Malibu Dreamhouse of our childhoods, Jonathan Adler went on to collaborate with Mattel to create both a special-edition Barbie and a line of décor. The capsule collection, which included stripped canisters, bright-pink bathroom sets, and printed throw pillows, was launched in 2009 and sold on the Jonathan Adler website.

In addition to these life-sized décor items, Mattel also launched the Barbie Loves Jonathan Adler doll, which comes with miniature pieces of furniture inspired by Adler pieces. The blonde beauty herself is dressed in a geometric-print dress with a '70s-inspired tunic silhouette, oversized sunglasses, and pink heels. According to Elle, she even came with a doll-size version of Adler's book "My Prescription for Antidepressive Living."

While these items are no longer available for purchase today, you can find product images on the Hostess with the Mostess blog and images from the launch party at Fashionably Petite.

Adler became a Creative Director at Fisher-Price in 2016

Jonathan Adler's collaborations with Mattel don't stop at these Barbie-centric projects, as the interior designer actually partnered with Fisher-Price, one of Mattel's leading brands, as a creative director. The partnership was intended to bring a high-end style spin on still-functional merchandise for children under five years old.

"My goal is to marry modern design with the brand's expertise in early childhood development," Adler said of the partnership. "Babies — and parents — deserve baby gear and toys as stylish as they are" (per Interior Design). Fisher-Price's executive vice president Jean McKenzie echoed Adler's statement: "While staying true to what we've always stood for — enriching developmental play, quality, and safety — we are contemporizing form, function, and style." 

With both his successful career as an interior designer and his history of Mattel collaborations in mind, it's a no-brainer that Adler was brought on as a judge for the "Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge." With the influence of his expertise, the HGTV contestants are guaranteed to create a one-of-a-kind, Barbie-tastic dreamhouse.