It wasn’t very long ago that people looking for pet furniture––beds, habitats, cat scratchers––found themselves relegated to products considered “cutesy” or, at the very least, unremarkable. Items may have been functional, but they rarely were pieces that pet parents wanted to display or could seamlessly integrate into the design of their homes.
Now that pets have reached family member status and are no longer banished to the back porch, designers are applying their skills to create beautiful and functional pieces for humans to admire and pets to enjoy. “Design-conscious pet parents are looking for ways to comfort their pets without sacrificing their décor,” says Corey Drew, CEO and Chief Design Officer of Architect Pets, one of the firms leading the way in innovative pet product design.
Taking a cue from the human design world, pet-focused pieces are following a few key trends:
1. They’re eco-friendly. Manufacturers are utilizing green materials like bamboo, organic fabrics, and recycled parts. For example, Purr Post, a Portland-based company that designs cat trees, posts, and scratchers, features products that are not only stylish, but also 100 percent eco-friendly.
2. They’re built to last. Designers are utilizing heavy-duty materials, stain-free fabrics, and easy-to-clean materials to help ensure their products stand the test of time (and wayward paws). Innovative and durable products may mean higher price tags, but these items are built to endure the scratching, licking, and slobbering they receive from the four-legged set.
3. They’re made to blend in, not stand out. Whatever your personal taste, you can find pet furniture that coordinates with the rest of your home instead of clashes with it. Well-known home décor designers like Jonathan Adler and Tommy Bahama have transferred their recognizable aesthetic to pet collections, creating pieces that are unique but also familiar.
“Pet furniture can be more than a scaled down version of a human bed, sofa, or chair. It can be unique,” says Drew, who also heads up the non-pet-focused Urban Design Group. “There’s a lot of creative freedom when it comes to designing pet furniture, because unlike human furniture the pet market has been virtually untapped and there are less design restrictions.”
Thanks to innovative designers, pet parents now have more options in the furniture they select for their furry friends.
“The designs have to be comfortable and safe for animals,” says Christel Meyer, who along with her husband founded the modern design firm Pet-Interiors.com. “But it’s equally important that the pieces fit in well with the respective ambience of the pet parent. That is how we ensure that both humans and animals feel comfortable in their home.”
It is this creative freedom, paired with the already whimsical nature of designing furniture for pets, that leads to creations that are inspired, fun, and modern. Take for example Architect Pet’s Aldo Lounger ($189), a sleek bed suitable for both dogs and cats that pairs mid-century Scandinavian design with smooth bamboo, soft suede, and an orthopedic foam mattress. Like many of Architect Pet’s designs, it’s so good looking we wish it came in human sizes!
As Drew and fellow designers understand, there’s an increased demand from animal lovers for higher quality and better designed pet furniture. Inspiration can come from anywhere.
“We observe our own animals and the animals of our friends very carefully,” Meyer says. “We study their habitats and haunts. We also visit the most important furniture fairs around the world, such as the Salone del Mobile in Milan, and study all relevant international living and design magazines.”
What most pet furniture designers have in common is that they’re also pet parents. This strong emotional bond leads to pieces that are rooted in more than just aesthetics. In the coming years, keep an eye out for an increase in animal-friendly furniture that is as chic as it is comfortable, and as beautiful as it is functional.