LilSugar associate editor Rebecca Gruber recently had the chance to chat with interior and furniture designer David Netto about his new bedding and textile collection for children's lifestyle company Maclaren. Since I've long been a fan — I featured him as a Designer Spotlight back in '08 — I sent her some prying questions for Netto in advance. The first segment of Lil's interview is already up, so be sure to check that out. But first, read below to hear how preppy rebellion inspired David's design career, two reasons why he's like Ralph Lauren, and why he hates blogging.
CasaSugar: You're a terrific writer; in fact, you recently wrote an article for WSJ magazine. Do you have plans to write more, or have you thought about keeping a blog?
David Netto: I hate keeping a blog, and so far I have evaded keeping a blog. I like contributing to blogs, but it's so hard to keep it fresh and to commit to doing that every day. I don’t know how Gwyneth Paltrow finds the time. She really puts her back into that.
I contribute to Giggle.com’s blog. I mean they don’t chase after me that often, but the WSJ is a great job. I’ll do anything for anyone who’s nice to me. Deborah Needleman, the editor, was a great friend to me at Domino. I admired that magazine, so when she asked me to come on board that team this Summer, I was very excited. And that’s been great. I need jobs that I can do in my pajamas from California. I’m there with my kids now.
CS: What’s your favorite kind of client? Do you prefer a really hands-on client who has a lot of input, one who says just do whatever you want, or somewhere in between?
DN: There is no such thing as someone that says do whatever you want. That’s a myth. I don’t think that ever really happens, and if it does, it's even more scary, because then you’re completely on your own. Because what if they don’t like that? It’s risk-reducing to work with someone that has opinions and knows something about what they want. What I find very helpful when working on a project is if somebody has a collection. I love it when there’s a book collection, a photography collection, something that has to be accommodated so that there’s a jumping off point for ideas. It’s pretty lonely when there isn’t one.
Continue reading for the rest of the interview!
CS: Do you feel you’re more creative or expressive on the West Coast?
DN: I think that going where you weren’t for the last 20 years is essential to any creative facility. Just by the fact that I grew up in NYC and knew it inside out made LA very exotic to me. But so could Lisbon, or Maine. I did have a West Coast fetish from an early age. But probably only because I didn’t grow up there.
CS: You had a sort of preppy, Upper East Side, NY upbringing, but these days you live in a laid-back California Richard Neutra house. How did your upbringing influence your current style?
DN: Am I really known about that, or did I just blab about it once? Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan of Apartment Therapy — he also grew up in that same environment. I knew him and his brother from school. I think when I mocked it and said a preppy austerity, people think they know what that is.
Preppy in many ways is the opposite of style. It’s the antistyle. It judges you for having style. You’re made fun of if you dress up in school and you’re a kid. Your mother thinks you’re some sort of libertine asshole if you’re interested in style. And so I was oppressed as a child by the austerity of my mother’s taste. She’s a great woman, but she was interested in tennis, people minding their business, doing your homework, etc. No topless St. Tropez Summers.
A lot of my interest in being a designer at all was in rebellion directly to what I was confronted with for options at that age. And so I began to completely not cooperate. And that’s how you become how you're supposed to become. I was interested in some kind of lost world, which was a little like what Ralph Lauren was interested in. [A lost world] which is that preppy had decayed by the '70s when I was noticing it, when I was 10 years old, into something ruined that for 25 years hadn’t really been relevant or attractive. But I knew that at one time, it had all been breathtaking and very stylish, in contrast to very gaudy, which is what I was getting from it.
And so I started thinking about history and about the past – old movies, old cars. You learn a lot from cars. The design of cars – very expressive. I think cars were very fascinating right up until about 1971. That’s another Ralph Laurenism. He’s fascinated by cars and collects them; they inspire his whole home collection. You can get a whole micro-design education from cars and ships relative to their times.
Stay tuned for more of LilSugar's interview with David!