If the new book Pet-tecture: Design for Pets, published by Phaidon, is any indication, now is a great time to be a domesticated dog, cat, bird or fish. According to its author, London-based Tom Wainwright, many of the world’s top designers are smartly reimagining animal architecture. Instead of shame-worthy tanks or cages bound for the basement, these sculptural play structures, sleeping spaces and feeders are objects worthy of the most sophisticated living spaces. And much of the design innovation is coming from Canada, which shouldn’t be a surprise given our country’s collective obsession with pets. According to a 2015 study from consumer-research firm Packaged Facts, more than half of Canadians have fur-, scale- or feather-covered friends, spending more than $7-billion annually on their care. Here, seven of the most standout ways to house our critters in high style.
Vancouver-based designer Judson Beaumont of Straight Line Designs clearly doesn’t believe that #Vanlife, wherein bohemian hipsters rove the world in slick Airstreams and document it all on Instagram, should be limited to humans. His tiny dog-and-cat-sized campers are each handmade and come with their own unique licence plates. For more information, visit straightlinedesigns.com.
Designer Glenn Ross, founder of British Columbia-based Vurv Design, creates furniture and accessories for discerning dogs – the kind that likely browse at Design Within Reach and read (or at least gnaw on) Dwell magazine. The bent-plywood canopy and legs of Ross’s Dog Pod 2.0 would look right at home next to an Eames chair or a Noguchi table. For more information, visit vurv.ca.
Canadian winters can be harsh, forcing most birds to fly south from November to March. The chickadee is one of the relatively few that stays north, often surviving in minus 40 temperatures. B.C.-based designer Evan McDougall has created an insulated, cedar bird-feeder to cache seeds so the birds can more easily last the cold season. For more information, visit evanmcdougall.com.
Minimalist interiors don’t have to be antithetical to animals. For a downtown Toronto home, architects StudioAC not only created a clean-lined, contemporary space for husband-and-wife team Joel Barkin and Sarah Phillips, but their dog Rusty as well. The white, peaked-roof pad is built into the custom cabinetry that faces the living room, ensuring Rusty is always included in family get-togethers. For more information, visit archcollab.com.
Catswall Design’s Curvynest Cat Tree has the architectural air of a swerving, Frank Gehry-esque tower. Beyond the bold aesthetic, it’s also practical. The spire bends and dips to create restful cradles for the cats. The surface is fashioned from woven PVC fabric that stands up to scratching. For more information, visit catswall.com.
Why is it that fish tanks are so often the same rigid, boxy shapes? British designer Richard Bell takes a different approach. His Bubble Tank is inspired by the water it contains and appears to pour fluidly off the shelf (it’s counterweighted, however, so as not to risk crashing to the floor). For more information, visit psaltdesign.com.
The catHAUS, designed by Los Angeles-based architects Space International, provides both pet and pet owners a place to rest, suggesting that cat naps aren’t only for cats. Kitties hide out below, ensconced in plush, synthetic turf. Kitty lovers unfurl above on a surface designed with the angles of a chaise longue. For more information, visit space-intl.com.