Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Toronto Star Article - June 2, 2006


Jun. 2, 2006. 01:00 AM

By Daphne Gordon
The Constant Shopper

THE ITEM: Pet dish by Everyday Studio
THE COST: $90 to $125, depending on size.
WHERE TO BUY: Timmie Doggie Outfitters, 867 Queen St. W.

Some savvy dogs approach life with a sense of design, turning up their wet noses at ugly plastic chew toys and disdaining water dishes that slide around on the floor while the poor pooch is trying to hydrate.

Or, at least that's what their design-savvy owners would have you believe.

"People who own dogs don't really have dogs any more. They have children. Or at least, that's how they think of their dogs," says Paul Ryu, half of the young design duo behind Timmie Doggie Outfitters, set to open this weekend right near doggie heaven, otherwise known as Trinity Bellwoods Park.

"Queen St. is all about organics and treating people right," notes Ryu, explaining that the shop will carry some fair trade items, organic grooming products and designer dog furniture, accessories and foods that aim to make life better for both pet and parent.

Ryu and partner Georges Khayat are already graphic designers at the top of their game. Their design company, Untitled Art, creates print and online identities for such clients as Canadian Tire and President's Choice, and the pair also teach their craft at the Ontario College of Art and Design, their alma mater.

They'll continue to work as designers in the human realm with Untitled Art while bringing their design sensibility to the Canadian canine community at Timmie. The two enterprises aren't so different, notes Khayat.

"As a designer, you're trained to have a certain eye. You see a beautifully designed product and you want to share it with other people."

Inspired by Ryu's "spazzy" black lab mix named Timmie, Khayat and Ryu saw opening a bow-wow boutique as an opportunity to fill the "high-end fun" pet niche that has yet to develop in Canada. They'll stock their shop with stuff sourced mostly in the U.S., where doggie design is already well established.

Take for example, the pet dish from a San Francisco-based brand, Everyday Studio. It's designed to be placed either on the floor or mounted on the wall, allowing a large dog to eat without straining his neck. It's also stunningly beautiful, and made to last from metal. A small space at one side allows the dog (or her owner) to customize the dish's appearance with a bit of grass, or any other object of poochie's preference.

Not that I'm a pet person, but the Everyday Studio dish is almost inspiring me to become one, because I can see how mounting it to a wall would make it easier to sweep up the detritus of meal time. Now that's good design.

There are other hot finds, including the Holden dog bed, featuring a curved wood frame designed by an architect.

"If Eames ever made a dog bed, that's what it would look like," says Khayat, referring to the famous furniture designers Charles and Ray Eames, who won serious acclaim for a moulded plywood chair they made in the 1940s.

"I can see condo owners wanting something like this," says Ryu. "(Dog accessories) can be an extension of the furniture in small space."

There's stuff from locals, too, including a line of biscuits created for Timmie Doggie Outfitters by Toronto's Shindig Sweets. And look for sparkly jewellery and cute clothes that mimic trends in human fashion, as well as fun toys. Of course, many of the products will be tested for desirability and durability by Timmie, resident chew toy critic.

And there are big plans for the future, Ryu says. He hints at a doggie dating event for pet parents, a springtime poop pickup at Trinity Bellwoods and a doggie spa for grooming and massage.

IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD: Design-savvy dog dads will love the cool clothes at Klaxon Howl (877 Queen St W.), where the military trend has genuine authenticity. Vintage khakis, boots, belts and bags are mixed with new labels such as the classic British line of outerwear, Belstaff.

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