A Chat with The Father of Modern Baby, David Netto
Maclaren is known as a leader in the baby industry. Owen Maclaren invented the very first umbrella stroller in 1965, and it weighed just 6 lbs. In 1981, the company came out with the very first front swivel wheels and linked brakes. Three years later, they developed the first fold-flat buggy, allowing the stroller to carry babies from infancy. In 1991, Maclaren not only developed the first stroller able to carry an infant carseat, but also introduced the very first twin umbrella fold stroller.
After decades of innovation, in 2009 Maclaren Nursery teamed up with world-renowned American interior designer and architectural historian, David Netto to launch the new line called NettoCollection. Known for his modern-minimalism, Netto’s nursery furniture is a gorgeous combination of white lacquer and warm, natural oak.
This year, Maclaren Nursery is again leading the world in design by launching the NettoCollecion linen line: Four piece crib sets made of 100% Turkish cotton in bold colors, delicate silhouettes and abstract lines.
I had the chance to chat briefly with “The Father of Modern Baby” from my desk in New York City, just after he dropped off his eldest daughter, Kate in sunny Southern California. I found myself not only interested in his design inspiration, but what car he was driving and the make of his shoes. This man is hip, edgy, colorful yet classic, exactly as his designs reflect.
A very hands on and dedicated father to Kate, 8, and Madelyn, 4, he makes sure to always solicit their opinions on his work before it leaves his desk.
“I’ve asked them about everything that is on my desk, and they have specific ideas about design” he says. “Those girls are not so interested in white lacquer and Baltic modernism, but they were very excited about the bedding being colorful. I got a lot a lot of support for those designs.”
When I saw the new Maclaren linen prints, I was knee deep in my search for a girls and boys matching collection for Jack and Zoe’s toddler beds. They share a room, so I wanted there to be a commonality but all I had been finding were quintessential pink and blue. My life as I know it now revolves on pink and blue, and while I don’t believe I had much to do with it, both of my children naturally gravitate to those colors. So, knowing that this will likely be the last decision I make for their rooms, I thought I’d at least try something a little more out-of-the-box.
“There is this received system of doing children’s linens of pink and light blue. There will always be some respect you have to pay in what the market place wants, but I thought it would be fun to follow through on our reputation for pioneering in baby, and do things that are a little more unisex. We do have a pink color wave-the nursery coral design, but it’s a grown up, fun pink… not your typical light pink.”
Netto’s inspiration comes from a life full of design. His father, a furniture art collector and textile professional in his own right planted the seeds of inspiration early on in David’s head. He attended grad school twice, the first time obtaining a degree as an architecture historian, and the second time for architecture school, which he dropped out of when he decided that design was his passion.
He has since beaten down the walls of the expected classics that are pink bunnies, blue sailboats, and yellow ducks with Menagerie print in Mezarine Blue and Spicy Orange, and Sea Coral in Azalea and Jade.
“The nursery linen line is very different, aesthetically, from what the furniture is. The bedding is all about very warm very hot lush colors, and a kind of maximalist approach in terms of the palate. The furniture is better known for it’s minimalism and simplicity, but I think that there is always something very fuzzy and cozy that should be going on in a nursery. When I sat down and thought about what I wanted to do with sheets, I wanted to do something different, something risky because people think in terms of modernism or minimalism. I hope that they’ll be open minded in looking at all kinds of possibilities for bedding to be different than that.”
When I told him that I immediately gravitated to the collection, he was thrilled. “I got a lot of cold sweats at night over doing something that wasn’t straight pink and blue option, and it’s the first stuff out there that is like that. I know it’s pretty, but I would love it to sell well, too!” I assured him that he has, at the very least, one very excited customer.
Maclaren’s NettoCollection will be coming out with an arctic animal puzzle and soon the Heart Glider. “It’s very neutral, 1930’s style upholstered armchair with no streamlines on it. It’s upholstered in a sort of boucle fabric that reminds me of a Chanel suit”.
Since 1965, Maclaren has been changing the face of modern parenthood. The recent collaboration with David Netto is further example of their constant design innovation and is glamorously-yet simply-paving the way to less color compartmentalized generations in baby products.
David Netto moonlights as a design editor at the Wall Street Journal, and has contributed to giggle Blogs. David’s design philosophy focuses on the creation of passionate and artistic works that reflect the needs and lifestyles of people with discriminating tastes. He was named one of House Beautiful’s “Top 100 designers in America” three years in a row and has been published in Vogue, Elle Decor, House & Garden, Dwell, Interior Design, House & Home and House Beautiful
I was not compensated for this article in any way, and all opinions are my own.