Domestic animals are increasingly becoming a design issue. Their lifestyle evolves along with the lifestyles and consumer patterns of their owners, a considerable number of people. Like them, their pets live, eat, travel, play etc. – the knock-on effect of which is that people who live with animals are seeking “pet-specific” interior solutions that also live up to their own aesthetic and qualitative standards.
Architects, designers and interior design brands, for their part, have started to produce furnishing pieces and design solutions geared to those who share their homes with four-legged occupants. Furniture and furnishings are becoming cat or dog friendly, catering to the needs of both people and animals, as well as being aesthetically pleasing and good to look at.
The fact that the needs of cats and dogs are being taken on board is evidenced by the growing number of design and interior design studios catering for this particular market niche, who are specialising in producing furnishings and accessories for demanding cat and dog owners seeking happy and reciprocally gratifying cohabitation.Taipei-based agency Thinking Design (http://www.thinkingdesign.com.tw/) has designed an apartment geared not just to people but also to their feline cohabitees.
The shelving system/bookcase in particular was designed to bring out cats’ “explorative” nature, with ramps and a variety of different levels just perfect for climbing and jumping on and off. The design also provides for areas where cats can sharpen their claws without ruining furniture or sofas, and hidey-holes such as the cubby hole behind a door featuring a paw-shaped cut-out, where they can nap in peace.
It shows how the domestic space can be planned right from the outset with all the types of inhabitants and their various needs in mind, rather than having to resort to later alterations that often prove unconducive to harmonious cohabitation, not to mention aesthetically displeasing.
Anyone who owns a cat knows only too well that its favourite pastime is to stretch out along a keyboard while their owner attempts to work on their laptop.
Hao Ruan, a designer at Hang Zhou-based LYCS Architecture, has come up with a response to this problem with the appositely named CATable, which doubles as a table or workstation for humans and a “playpark” for the feline of the house. Hand-crafted, the table is made entirely of wood and features a series of openings and tunnels for cats to burrow into, designed to pique their curiosity, distracting them from whatever is happening on the table. Cats and their owners can thus share the same space “peacefully”.
A second version, CATable 2.0, has recently been released – not strictly speaking a table - but amodular system made up of four equal-sized wooden cubes. Each has been designed to accommodate feline incursions and also for whatever other use their owners require. The modules can be used as stools, coffee tables, small repositories or bookcases when combined.
Parisian brand Meyou came into being with a very precise mission: to match the needs of catswith the stylistic and aesthetic expectations of their owners. The concept was born of the simple observation that most products on the market tend not to chime with the taste and expectations of people with an eye for design and elegant furnishings. The outcome is an extremely stylish, geometric and minimalist range of furniture and pet beds that do not look out of place even in the most sophisticated of environments, in which the aesthetic harmony of the home and the comfort of its four-legged occupants is paramount.
The Cube is a perfect refuge for our furry friend to curl up in and feel safe. Equally, it is an object of perfect formal equilibrium: a sphere of soft fabric housed in a metal frame. The Ball is a similar concept, but featuring natural wood, with a cocoon for cats and ample scope for scratching. The third piece in the collection, The Bed, consists of a small wooden table mounted with a felted wool hood, offering cats a vantage point as well as a place to sleep. It can also be placed next to their owner’s bed.
Nendo has put its definitive stamp on the aesthetic rethinking of pet products with its collection of accessories for pets – dogs specifically - which are furnishing accessories in their own right.
True to his DNA, Japanese designer Oki Sato produced the collection bearing in mind functionality and compatibility with domestic spaces boasting clean and simple lines, in which round, coloured and highly coloured shapes – like those that tend to mark out products of this sort – would strike a discordant note.
The square dishes come in the same range of colours, with evenly placed embossed contour lines on the inside, making it easy to check the amount of food and water left inside, as well as being stylish. The dishes come in three different sizes, according to the size of dog, and can also be teamed with a range of plant pots featuring the same lines, fostering an even more relaxed dialogue with the surrounding space.
Finally, there is a series of small balls designed to encourage our faithful friends to play - snacks and treats can be pushed through the holes for them to extract – as well as an “abstractly” shaped soft toy that comes to pieces, each of which emits a different sound.