Looking to maintain a fashionable home only to be stymied by shaggy dog beds and cutout cat perches?
Think again. Think Wassily Chairs, ocean wave-inspired coffee tables and a wine barrel-turned-pug lair.
At a glance, these pet habitats -- all donated by architectural firms to raise money for a San Francisco-based nonprofit, Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS) -- reveal a clear embrace of utilitarianism and a bold, cutting-edge vogue. Not to mention some cute, at-home pets.
According to the American Pets Products Association, Americans will spend just under $53 billion dollars on their pets this year. But some who might benefit the most from the love that a pet can provide -- like fixed-income elderly and health-compromised adults -- can't afford the vet bills and the food prices.
That's where PAWS comes in. The group's 17th annual "Petchitecture" fundraiser event on May 11 was expected to draw 800 attendees and raise more than $200,000 for the nonprofit, which helps low-income seniors and people with HIV/AIDS and other disabling illnesses care for their companion animals.
Pugs in a Barrel
The result of one donor-designer collaboration was "Pugs in a Barrel," for Peggy Bennington, a Marin County, Calif.-based lawyer and small-volume winemaker. After Bennington saw several designs from William Duff Architects, the idea of using a wine barrel for the habitat for her three pugs emerged.
Bluxome Street Winery in San Francisco, where Bennington makes her wine, donated three wine barrels for the habitat.
"The more you can make use of the wine barrel, the better," Bennington said to the designers early in the design process. The result is a figurative "Pug Pinot" to match the literal wine of the same name she vints (two barrels) each year.
Coffee for Two?
"We wanted to merge the pet and user's needs into one functioning piece," said Joe Irwan, a designer at MBH Architects, which donated the "Pawmio" and "Pawmio-mini" to this year's Petchitecture.
The habitats have two levels. "The lower tier is almost like a coffee table for the pet," said Irwan, "and the upper tier serves as one for the person." Small pocket inlays in both levels can hold coffee cups, vases and water and food bowls.
The two identical, though different-sized pieces were built out of glued-together sheets of three-quarter-inch birch plywood. As they're made up of individual sheets, each sheet could be bent differently, a possibility used to form the pieces' striking wave.
With its wraparound steel frame design, "Joey's Dwell" was directly inspired by the iconic Bauhaus-designed Wassily Chair, said Rahul Pathare, a designer at Huntsman Architectural Group, which donated the piece. It was commissioned by Michaela Abrams, president of San Francisco-based Dwell Media, publisher of the chic home furnishings monthly Dwell Magazine.
"It's so modern and ingenious," said Abrams, "(Pathare) nailed it." Her Australian Shephard/Queensland Heeler mix, Joey, has already taken to it, said Abrams. At a pre-showing of this year’s Petchitecture pieces at a San Francisco furniture store earlier this month, he walked straight upstairs and right to it, she said.
Danish furniture maker Peter Kuzma-Rodevad with his wife Linda, who both now live in the Bay Area, designed the "Cornucopia." At the pre-Petchitecture event earlier this month, their dog DJ Sausage, lounged in it, his arm overhanging the rim in a casual, at-home vibe. "This is mine," his look said.
Kuzma-Rodevad, who works as a private, custom furniture maker to Bay Area clients, got inspiration for the design from a much smaller pot-bellied-pig piece he made for his mother-in-law. The piece taught him about how the wales in glued-together plywood can be manipulated to make pleasing patterns.
Finally, here's a piece of furniture for your living room that you'd welcome your cat to claw.
Lots of furniture is not durable for cat-scratching, said Douglas Smith, designer at international design firm SOM, which designed "The Scratch Pad." Made of synthetic microfiber, the material is akin to a bathroom rug, said Smith. It works as a perch for cats, who like a seat up high, and has a top that pops off to reveal storage space inside for cat goodies.
"In the last few years, we've been playing with the platonic form of the cube," said Mary Wang, designer at Tsao Design Group and one of the people responsible for this year's Petchitecture piece at the firm.
"We were trying to evoke the iconic image of a doghouse," said Wang of the simple cube-shaped cutout design. Nevertheless, it can be a cat habitat, too, she said. And beyond that, she added, it is a stylish end table for the home as well.
It's shelter and sculpture, said Wang.
The plastic-looking piece is actually made of wood that's lacquered with three base coats of primer and five coats of deep, glowing orange-pigmented varnish to a semi-gloss sheen.
The goal was to create something iconic and simple, but timeless, said Wang. We'll see what Spot says.
A moveable feast (for the eyes)
A desk, made of solid reclaimed teak, is the centerpiece of this design by international, San Francisco-based architectural firm Gensler. The commissioned piece features a moveable kennel and a separate, moveable storage bench underneath.
The clients had just moved from San Francisco to a Marin County, Calif., hilltop home that overlooks Stinson Beach and is bordered on three sides by Mount Tamalpais State Park, said Aimee Taylor, a Gensler designer who worked on the piece. One of the clients works from home and this will be his work desk.
The move is a big change for parents and pets alike, said Taylor. The owners wanted a kennel-like setup to put their Habanese and Habanese maltese up while they are out of the house. They also wanted the kennel to be moveable, so it could be set up under the desk while the client works or moved to the many windows around for taking in the great views.
With abundant picture windows offering scenes of deer, bobcats and the Pacific Ocean, the design was about mobility and wildlife, said Taylor, and simplicity.
It comes with a glowing-orange, and very comfortable, Sayl Chair, designed in San Francisco and inspired by the Golden Gate Bridge.