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.