Creating Modern Homes for Pets
Who says you have to choose between functional pet products and beautiful home décor?
A home is incomplete without a pet for many U.S. families—84.6 million families, in fact, according to the 2017-2018 APPA National Pet Owners Survey. So, it makes sense that owners want products that are designed with both home décor and pets’ needs in mind.
“Pet products for the home have changed a lot in the last couple of years. Companies—and not just pet companies anymore—are realizing that pets are part of the family and they need to incorporate them when building product lines to keep with the trends,” says Lisa Hisamune, director of sales at San Francisco-based P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle and You).
From high-tech upgrades to beautiful designs, there are a number of ways manufacturers are rethinking pet furnishings for the modern home.
Food and water dishes have long been a staple of the pet industry. Today’s owners, however, want more than just plain plastic bowls; they want something both beautiful and functional.
“They are looking for bowls that make both them and their pets happy. This involves making a durable, functional bowl for the pet in a style and pattern that is pleasing to the owner,” says Gretchen George, president of PetRageous Designs in Wilmington, Mass. “With the pet’s dining area becoming more inclusive in the home décor, it is important to offer pet owners colors, styles and patterns that they’ll be proud to display.”
PetRageous offers bowls in a range of colors, patterns and materials, including stoneware, stainless steel and lightweight, durable plastic.
“All our bowls incorporate function and style. Customers will find more colorful bowls in smaller capacities, which typically appeal to smaller breeds. Larger breeds requiring larger capacities will follow more neutral colors and patterns,” says George. “The pattern, color and capacity are always considered in our design process.”
Another major concern for many pet parents, especially dog owners, is the sliding of dishes. For overly enthusiastic pets, meal times can quickly take a messy turn as hungry and thirsty mouths aggressively push bowls around on the kitchen floor. That’s why PetRageous created the Fiji, Maui and Cayman stainless steel collections with non-skid rubber bottoms, which grip the floor surface to prevent slips, spills and skids.
Pet parents today are also increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of the products they consume. Moderna, for instance, produces plastic pet products that are BPA-free, recyclable, food safe, non-toxic and dishwasher safe.
“Today’s pet parents want products that blend into their home seamlessly, and also demand functional design to stand the test of modern life,” explains Bart Bonte, CEO of the Belgian company, which has its U.S. headquarters in Gaffney, S.C. “We make sure our products can be easily cleaned and perfectly fit in their home. We make sure they fit the purpose and at a price that makes sense.”
A prime example of a purposefully designed product is Moderna’s new Skybar, a raised double diner that comes with two stainless steel bowls. It is available in three different heights and bowl sizes to fit dogs of all shapes and sizes. “[It is] designed to make it far more ergonomic for dogs to eat and drink without adding stress to their neck,” adds Bonte.
The Slomo dish is another new addition to the Moderna feeder lineup with an innovative inclined design that pushes food actively back through its compartments to the front as dogs eat. “Dogs love it, as it keeps them entertained at meal times and also restricts their natural gulping instinct,” says Bonte.
P.L.A.Y. started out of necessity when the founders, Will and Deb Chen, couldn’t find a functional and aesthetically pleasing bed for their pug Momo. So, they built their own. Today, the company continues to make thoughtfully designed beds, but have since expanded into all areas of home décor, including pet teepees, cat scratchers and backyard furniture.
“At P.L.A.Y., we want to make sure that we have something for every kind of dog and cat, and that is part of how we stand out in the industry,” says Hisamune. “Pet parents want products that solve a need for them—whether it is a bed for their arthritic dog, a cool and functional cat perch, a side table with a place for a pet to rest underneath, or outdoor products that keep their pet safe and comfortable in any weather.”
Most of P.L.A.Y.’s beds are filled with the company’s in-house certified PlanetFill polyfiber, which is made from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. However, for pets that need more support to relieve daily pressure and stress, P.L.A.Y. launched a new bedding line that offers contouring comfort.
“Like all our beds, this new collection of California Dreaming Memory Foam Beds will be 100 percent washable and feature the same durable construction and stylish designs to integrate seamlessly into any home,” says Hisamune.
Versatility is the name of the home pet products game according to industry experts. Owners are ready and willing to spend more on high-quality products if they serve multiple purposes.
“Modern pet parents want the product to be meaningful and decorative,” says Libby He, marketing director of City of Industry, Calif.-based PetPals. “Meaningful—which means cats love it—these multi-function cat trees will be more attractive and make cats more satisfied. Decorative, as in it decorates the place as part of home décor. It can be used by cats as a house and also can be used by people as a furniture.”
Not only does PetPals manufacture beautiful pet furniture, like cat trees, cat condos and scratching posts, the company also strives to address common concerns with effective design upgrades.
For example, cat owners are often hesitant to buy new furniture because they’re worried that their picky kitties won’t actually use it. So, all PetPals products are made without smelly chemical glues, which cats typically dislike.
Another common fear is product durability. “Stability is important with cat trees because cats jump from level to level; they need to be safe and sturdy.” says He. That’s why PetPals uses weighted bases and third-party lab testing to ensure the strength and solidity of all perches and cat trees.
Future of the Category
Looking forward, industry experts expect to see the continued influence of the human home style trends on pet home products, with an emphasis on simplicity rather than bold patterns and colors.
“I feel that more and more pet products need to be subtle in their approach and must utilize softer colors and materials. More and more homeowners are simplifying their homes and keeping a cleaner look to their rooms, so we must follow in using modern substrates and cleaner softer lines in our designs,” says George. “But, most of all, everything we do must be functional and make life easier for the pet owner and the pet alike.”
Technology, too, is projected to have a big impact on the future of pet home products, especially products that help owners feel more connected with their pets while they’re away from home.
“Now you can feed, give a treat, speak to and even play with your dog remotely. These devices usually have a stylish design and blend in with the homes of today much like our beds, toys and accessories so that you don’t mind having them visible around the house,” says Hisamune. PB