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David Netto's chic contemporary children's designs

How David Netto’s cool designs changed the face of children’s furniture

Posted: 6 September 2011
by Helen McKay-Ferguson

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As well as Kate, now eight, David has another daughter, Madelyn, four, with his wife Elizabeth, a documentary film-maker. They live in a modernist house in Silverlake, California, designed by leading architect Richard Neutra. So does their father’s predilection for clean lines mean his daughters’ rooms are also shrines to minimalism? “Not at all. I don’t enforce any kind of aesthetic when it comes to their personal objects,” says David. “Their rooms are full of kites and Barbies and weird dragon things. I don’t think I’ve ever said no to anything they’ve asked for. We have this pair of really kitsch salt and pepper shakers in the form of kissing chihuahuas wearing bride and groom costumes. And Madelyn got this tacky dream catcher and hung it from the porch roof. It looks ridiculous, but it’s sweet. If you’ve got a nice house with beautiful furniture, it will still be nice however many dream catchers you have hanging around.” 

Neatly, the pieces in David’s collection are convertible so they grow with your child. The Moderne crib has a rail that can be taken off so it can be made into a toddler’s bed, which can then be turned into a daybed or couch. The Louis changing table has a top that flips to become a normal dresser. “One of the things that drove me crazy was that baby furniture would end up in landfill after a year or two, so all our stuff is convertible. I figured I could convince people to pay for the build quality if they never had to throw it away,” he says. 

As a mascot for the brand, David chose a polar bear, affectionately known as Rufus, who has been made into a ride-on rocking toy, set atop wave-shaped rockers. “I wanted my own version of the Lacoste alligator and I love those Coca-Cola ads from the mid-Nineties with polar bears watching the aurora borealis. There was something about the polar bear that seemed to perfectly fit our snowy white look.” 

Clearly David was on to a good thing. So much so that the big furniture designers copied him. “I don’t want to name names, but being copied by everybody who then charged 30 per cent less than us was annoying,” says David. “They kind of gobbled up a market that I had painstakingly invented. Still, I’m not a vicious grudge holder.”

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