07/08/2013 10:01 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Good Design Is for the Dogs... and Cats

Every morning, my boyfriend and I have the great luck to be woken up by a multitude of furry four-legged (and one three-legged) friends. Nothing makes us happier then surveying our California king and finding various animals stretched out, some in luxurious sleep (the dog), with others licking our noses reminding us that it is time for breakfast (the cats). We, like many, many others, consider the animals with whom we share our home to be part of our family. And we take great care to ensure their happiness and health.

I am a designer, a designer of things and of ideas. I am happiest when my designs have a positive effect on their user. This philosophy is what guides my design choices, which is why it should come as no surprise when I looked at my pets' bowls one morning and thought: we can do this better than the boring stainless steel model. We can come up with a design for pet bowls that is functional, fashionable and fun.

My first step? Like all good designers, I needed to familiarize with the end user so I created a small focus group. In this case, two of our cats, Rashi and Lennox, and our dog, Kiwi, happily volunteered to test my ideas which primarily involved eating a lot more food during the design process. I started with one of the footed bowls from my collection, confident that my testers would like to eat out of a raised vessel. I was right. Our animal testers could now eat without cramping their necks (aids in digestion too). I then turned to one of the safest materials out there for animals, non-porous stoneware with a lead-free, non-toxic glaze. Additionally, I wanted a bowl that would be able to withstand hot dishwashing temperatures.

Now for the most important test, would my subjects appreciate the clean lines and whimsical design of a two-legged bowl? I was inclined to think not. However, I had to believe that just as my two-legged friends appreciated a two-legged bowl, my four-pawed friends might appreciate a four-legged version. After some slight re-designing to make sure the claws wouldn't break off with frequent washing, the new four-pawed pet bowls were pet approved and ready to go and I had the pleasure of working on a new design with some of my very favorite consumers!