Dogs & Design
I’ve always been drawn to dogs and design. Is there any kind of connection? I know many friends with the same two predilections. It’s probably a coincidence. But this article will be a simple stream of consciousness from me to explore the idea.
Me? A humble male. Lifelong dog advocate. A young 46. Graduated college in New York City with a degree in corporate finance. Worked on Wall Street for a few years. Eccentric and entertaining but not the career for me. Went on to work at two technology startups during the tech bubble. 11 years ago I randomly took a piece of leather and somehow made a crude tragically cool bag for myself. I resigned from my corporate job the following week. I started designing and fabricating chairs. Always thought chairs were sculptural and functional pieces of art. Having always had puppies and dogs in my life I made a few dog collars and leashes for friends and family. The profit margins were so low in dog accessories that I didn’t take it seriously as a career to support myself in New York City. After 10 years as a wild eccentric underground leather craftsman / artist in Brooklyn I decided to change gears and start a company that would be devoted to creating stylish, strong dog accessories that I think are cool. It seemed there was so much pink rhinestone dog accessories that I wanted to form a company that produced evergreen accessories that avoided trends and would always be cool because of their simplicity of design and quality of materials. www.Vagabond-Dogs.com was formed.
So now I’m 46 and I launched the company 5 months ago. The store is open for business and I’m scrambling to learn SEO, Pinterest posting, product photography lighting, shipping fulfillment, etc.
Having traveled the world and collected an incredibly tight circle of friends, I noticed a commonality is dogs and a sense of style. None of my friends care about pretentious fashion labels or following trends, but we do have an interest in a degree of style. We see a sense of style more as a self expression through materials and color. As adults functioning in a fast paced city with growing careers or businesses, there seems to be a limit to the amount of effort we are willing to go through to obtain stylish clothes, furnishings, dog accessories. I noticed the visual aspect of an object is the majority the equation, but a definite component is the “back story”, which includes the story of the craftsman who made it and why he/she made it.
I guess that’s the human side of design. It’s not just visual, obviously. There’s emotion behind objects we decide to buy. Everyone who cares for a dog is clearly in touch with their emotions, compassion, giving. So if they’re going to spend money on dog accessories (beyond a simple canvas collar/leash from PetSmart) they want dog accessories they they connect with beyond just visually. There’s been the ubiquitous trend for companies to donate a percentage of sales to a charity in that industry. Advocacy is tremendously important. I think that’s a definite component of a companies identity.
But is there any further connection between dogs and design? I have no idea. I’m trying to work through that concept in real time, right now, as I type. Accessories are obviously an extension of the owner. The dog doesn’t feel any actual difference between a visually attractive collar and an ugly collar. So it’s clearly a purchase made for the benefit of the owner. The visual aspect plays a huge role in the breed of dog the owner chooses. Obviously there’s plenty of exceptions, I’m just speaking in uber generalizations right now. I just rescued a homeless puppy. Probably a few days from dying. I didn’t choose this dog based on aesthetics, only circumstance. Now that we’ve had him for a few weeks and he’s almost 100% healthy, he could be described as……unique, or unconventional. It would be impossible for us to love this little dog more than we do. I love that he is not some perfect show dog from a breeder/groomer. I guess that’s an extension of my rebelliousness. I’ve been making leather dog accessories that match his uniqueness. The dog accessories industry is based on what we see as attractive. What about a dog accessories collection that is truly unattractive, or “unique” and unconventional? Maybe I’ll create a collection for Vagabond-Dogs that is really very ugly, but all the profits will go to support no-kill shelters. I like it. That’s my plan for the exquisite redistribution of wealth from rich trendy folks to the unlucky dogs currently sitting shelters waiting for a family.
My conclusion. I’ve accomplished no great enlightenment from this exercise in words. You’re still reading this and there’s no great ending. I don’t know what to tell you. Send me an email and complain. Or give a constructive idea. Maybe I’ll start on this trendy “Ugly Accessories” collection for dogs. I guess you’d call it the first non-profit luxury brand with purposeful ugly products. You can steal the idea and create your own ugly collection. But it won’t be as ugly as mine. That’s a good ending. Or a really bad ending.
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