Architecture, landscape, urbanism . . . we are at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, which takes an enlightened and comprehensive view of “designed” environments and how they interrelate. But—David Netto GSD ’97 asks—how many of you have ever been taught how to make a furniture plan? How to light a room? The secrets of proportion and texture, and the breaking of rules in animating an interior? These are questions Netto has never found a satisfactory answer to in school—any school; one only learns about them from experience in the workplace. The practical truth is that how a project is perceived is key to how it is received—and essential to whether or not it gets published, written about, and given a fair trial after its transition from an abstract hypothetical to real life.
Netto has worked as an interior designer for decades and has written about architecture and design history for just as long. He professes to have learned as much from writing about the work of others as from formal education in design. His latest book is about the French designer François Catroux, who since 1968 has innovated and excelled in a career of nearly fifty years with no formal design education whatsoever (he credits Philip Johnson as a formative influence and is presently working with Diller Scofidio & Renfro on an apartment in New York). In the course of his talk, Netto will address the importance of interiors in the success of architecture and his observations on how this gets accomplished, based on what he has learned in his work as a design journalist.