“Decorating is a dying art form,” David Netto tells host Dennis Scully on the latest episode of The Business of Home Podcast—or at least a version of decorating. The acclaimed Los Angeles–based writer and designer has a deep appreciation for history and antiques, something that isn’t as common with today’s ubiquitous “beige box” designs. This admiration was shaped by Netto’s upbringing on New York’s Upper East Side in an era when everyone around him had a general knowledge about taste and art. Ironically, he never wanted to be an interior designer himself, initially trying everything from architecture school to launching a children’s furniture brand. However, the design opportunities kept coming to him through friends and family, and he gained more confidence after each project. “I by no means felt that this was my destiny,” he says. “It just kept happening to me.” Now, Netto’s work has been published everywhere from Vogue to Architectural Digest, and he still holds on to that love of the past.
One of the reasons he just published his eponymous book is to educate young designers about the history of design beyond what they can find on Pinterest and Instagram. In contrast to popular wisdom, he believes the next generation has a true desire to learn the art, and he’s willing and eager to teach (after all, one of his favorite jobs was being an assistant kindergarten teacher). On this episode of the show, Netto talks about the importance of getting your work in interior design magazines, managing a “strategically small” seven-person firm, and being politically outspoken on social media.
Crucial insight: Netto keeps an intentionally professional distance from his employees in order to cultivate a healthy and calm work environment that’s beneficial to everyone. “You don’t have to be their best friend. I’m not particularly good at taking people on office unity picnics and bowling expeditions. I think that’s probably excruciating for them too,” he says. “I am mindful of all the in-between times as opportunities to make someone feel valued.”
Key quote: “You can’t half-ass anything in design. It is immediately detectable. It’s like using old notes if you're a college professor,” he says. “It’s this kiss of death. Staleness is an immediate symptom of lack of passion.”
The Thursday Show
BOH executive editor Fred Nicolaus joins host Dennis Scully to discuss the biggest news in the design industry, including a new twist in the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams saga, a 1stDibs trend report, and a look at what the latest inflation numbers mean for designers. Later, designer Ashley Whittaker explains why she’s pivoting to a new career.