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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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David has always been something of an avant-garde non-conformist. Born in 1969, he grew up on New York’s affluent Upper East Side where, from age four, he went to posh boys’ independent school Buckley. “I hated every single minute,” he says. “Buckley was a horrible place for me. If you weren’t what they were looking for, they didn’t go back for the wounded. You had to be a jock, successful in all subjects, not creative. What were they going to do with someone like me who was interested in drawing all day? As far as Buckley was concerned, it was their way or nothing.”

Against such a stifling cookie-cutter culture, David launched his first style rebellion. “Everyone wore these parka jackets with fur round the hood and I got out one of my father’s old Chesterfield coats from the Sixties and wore it collar-up punk style, with my backpack on one arm instead of two. People thought it was insane and I received a lot of abuse. That was what was considered seditious in that preppy, bonehead environment. The ironic thing is, two years later, every kid in New York was wearing those things – it’s another example of what a bad businessman I am. I should have patented that look.” 

Footwear was another flashpoint. “The standard uniform was penny loafers. I saved up my allowance for about 18 weeks to buy fancy Italian shoes and then got sent home to change.”

David describes his parents as very different people. His mother, Kate, a society lady of leisure, gave birth to him at age 40. “Smoking and tennis, those were the two motivations that got her out of bed in the morning,” says David. His father, Eldo, a bright boy from Ohio with a working-class background who had gone to Princeton on a scholarship, was a banker turned textile company owner. He discovered his calling later in life, buying up textile house Cowtan & Tout at age 50 before selling it to Mayfair-based Colefax & Fowler. It was through his father that David gained his first glimpses into the world of design. “He was fascinated by interior decoration and was always talking about taste and about people with nice apartments in New York and what they were doing to them.”

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