During the summer, Pet Companion Magazine takes a team to cover the massive annual SuperZoo pet product convention in Las Vegas. We scour the entire event for two days seeking out what is new, what is useful and what is unique, allowing us to feature a few select items in each issue. We meet all the reps, sometimes coercing product samples from them and taking everyone’s brochure. Many large companies and corporations are represented, and frankly, there is rarely anything innovative from them. So, it is the entrepreneurs and small business startups, those that have put all they have into their products—sometimes a single product or invention—hoping and praying that what they have to offer will strike the buyer’s fancy enough to get some orders, that intrigue me.
We could do entire issues for a year on all the “natural” and “organic” food products being offered. I felt my eyes glazing over towards the end of the convention when getting the product pitch because it sounded exactly the same as 20 similar products with different labels. Some “educational” toys were clearly designed for the enjoyment of the pet owner, whereas the pet would learn that these toys would be best to bury in the back yard. Other items were certainly natural and different, but I wondered about sustainability, which was limited, meaning little room for product growth. So, what did I find that was unique? Furniture!
In my mind, pet-related furniture has been the dog or cat basket or pillow next to the couch or the “cat condo” built out of plywood, two by fours and cheap carpet, or the flimsy room dividers and gates that fall over as soon as your puppy discovers the laws of physics and gravity. Upon entering the convention floor one of the first things I noticed was a display of room dividers and gates from Richell. They weren’t cheap and flimsy vinyl or unfinished pine, they were ornate, beautifully designed hardwood mini-fences that were finished to match higher end human furniture.
A little more exploring found a few manufacturers that actually embraced the idea that today’s pets are part of the family. Instead of the pet bed being a separate item, these pet beds were integrated into beautifully designed coffee or end tables. Both Richell and Sauder had end tables that served a third purpose (other than holding a lamp and acting as a bed) … they also became night time pet crates with a door and bottom drawer to pull out for easy cleaning. In addition to similar products, Pinnacle Woodcraft offers a combo dog crate and entertainment center to hold your television. If Craftsman or Mission-style furniture doesn’t go with your decor, check out the modern metal and fiberglass designs at DenHaus.
The cat condo was raised to a totally new level by the people at Sauder, who’s Natural Sphere Pet Tower is a uniquely designed piece of furniture with a beautifully designed wicker globe on top acting as the perfect hide-away bed. Another piece of people/pet furniture is a side table that would be perfect beside any bed, that includes a wicker drawer and a Murphy-style bed for your cat.
On the other end of well thought out items with cats in mind, the Cat Crib attaches to the legs of your side or dining chair, creating a hammock-type bed giving your cat the kind of environment it appreciates. For those cat lovers with a small space there’s even a canvas cat condo that hangs over a door much like a shoe storage door panel … not exactly furniture, but certainly useful and different.
Kitangle is a modern litter box that is sensible, sturdy and stylish. They’re spacious, high-sided, have a seamless interior and the lid is optional. kitangle.com
I see this type of dual functionality furniture, where both pets and their owners can make use of the same piece of furniture while maintaining their own space, as just the beginning of a furniture revolution. I believe that by the time next year’s show comes around, we will find an even greater variety as designers see opportunities to make something beautiful for everyone’s interior spaces. Who knows, someday you’ll be able walk into Matthis Bros. or Mor with your dog and you can both check out the new couch. He’ll pick the style. You can decide on the color.