Some designers are born, some are made, and some make themselves. David Netto was made a designer by the preppy austerity of his family's early 1970's style, which seemed at times to be a mingling of The Virgin Suicides and The Leopard. He grew up in New York and Long Island, surrounded by people who were successful at getting into boarding school, lacrosse, and attaining jobs in finance. David was none of the above. Coincidentally, Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan was a childhood acquaintance.
At Sarah Lawrence College David was encouraged to pursue his interest in art and architectural history, which led him to Columbia for an MA in the subject. And from there to the Graduate School of Design at Harvard's architecture program.
After two years, David dropped out of the GSD and decided instead to pursue a career as an interior designer. "Many of the people I grew up with in NY were getting their first serious apartments, and I wanted to be there to do them up. Residential design has always been my passion and the timing worked out well — I was busy from the moment I left architecture school. Never thought for a minute about going back." David worked in the offices of Bunny Williams and Nasser Nakib Architect, and opened his own studio in 2000.
A successful designer of interiors and architecture from the moment David Netto Design was founded, David published projects in Vogue, House & Garden, Elle Decor, House Beautiful, and many other magazines. However, when his first child Kate was born in 2001, he noticed the extreme limitations in the marketplace for baby furniture: No modernism, no luxury, no style. The thought then occurred to him to try to add Product Designer to his resume. A revolution had taken place in domestic design thanks to coverage by the kinds of magazines David was already published in and stores like Design Within Reach — but the Nursery was the one room that had been left out.
NettoCollection was founded to address this: to put great style into baby furniture and take the disposability out; and it changed an entire industry. Three catalogs, five collections, a bridge line, and seven years of hard work — "Harder than being a decorator &mdash ;I was to find" — later, NettoCollection was acquired by Maclaren, the renowned stroller company and juvenile industry leader. David continues to design for them as they implement a plan to take the brand global as "Maclaren Nursery designed by David Netto."
Today, relieved to no longer have to operate a business, David lives in Los Angeles with his wife Elizabeth and two children, designing for Maclaren and commuting to the East Coast once a month. Having just turned 41, he is trying to figure out his next big thing.
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DAVID NETTO ON APARTMENT THERAPY
• Modern Apartment by David Netto
• Artful Shelves by David Netto
• David Netto: Apartment Therapy's Summer Style Survey