Doggy designs: in praise of Kenya Hara’s Architecture for Dogs

Graphic designer, curator and  Architecture for Dogs mastermind Kenya Hara, with his plywood doghouse, titled the 'D-Tunnel', designed for a Teacup Poodle
Graphic designer, curator and  Architecture for Dogs mastermind Kenya Hara, with his plywood doghouse, titled the 'D-Tunnel', designed for a Teacup Poodle. Photography: Motoyuki Daifu and Hiroshi Yoda 
(Image credit: Motoyuki Daifu and Hiroshi Yoda)

December is coming, which can only mean one thing… No, not that, not Christmas; Design Miami. Ahead of the international summit we’re thinking of a few of our favorite – or the most adorable, at least – projects from previous gatherings. Namely Kenya Hara’s Architecture for Dogs. 

Previewed in the December 2012 issue of Wallpaper* (W*165), Japanese graphic designer and curator Kenya Hara gathered a star-studded cast of designers and architects for an online venture to supply free blueprints for 13 different DIY doghouses, each one earmarked for a particular breed. Designer pet homes that anyone could assemble with ordinary household tools and materials, made viral - or at least possible - by the internet. What could possibly go wrong?

Leading the pack, Hara launched the project by designing two doghouses of his own: a hard, paper cone suspended from the ceiling for a Japanese Terrier and a plywood contraption for a Teacup Poodle. Some D2D (designer-to-dog) pairings were somewhat random (architect Atelier Bow-Wow with a Dachshund; Toy Poodle with product designer Konstantin Grcic) but others were special requests, like architect Toyo Ito who wanted to design for this own Shiba, and Kengo Kuma who was keen to make a home for a client’s Pug. Pritzker prize-winning architect Kazuyo Sejima wanted to design a cuddly home for her assistant’s fuzzy white pup, a Bichon Frise, too. 

Since Miami, Architecture for Dogs has traveled to Los Angeles, Tokyo, Chengdu, Kanazawa and, most recently, Shanghai. Growing in scope and depth, what started focusing only on small breeds has evolved to larger hounds too. In Shanghai it welcomed Chinese architect Ma Yansong into the fold with his rather mouthwatering Niku Rug for Labrador Retrievers.

In essence, it remains the same though: ’Architecture for Dogs is not a pet’s project,’ explains Hara. ‘It is a project for architects.’ And one the whole world can participate in, too. 

‘I have the impression that the whole world is interested in babies and dogs,’ Hara told us back in 2012, preempting the doggy half of viral internet content. If only he’d included cats...

Niku Rug by MA Yansong for Labrador Retriever

Niku Rug by MA Yansong for Labrador Retriever. The latest addition to Architecture for Dogs, this meat-shaped rug by Beijing-born architect Ma Yansong is as visually appealing to humans as it is comforting to dogs

(Image credit: TBC)

Paramount by Konstantin Grcic

Paramount by Konstantin Grcic. This doggy dressing area is inspired by the 'mirror test' where the self-awareness of animals is assessed by placing them in front of a mirror. The test's conclusion? Dogs completely and utterly fail. But there is a school of thought that suggests the Toy Poodle, a regal creature famed for its finicky good-looks might be a little more self-aware than its contemporaries. So Grgic has given the Toy a platfom (quite literally) on which to perform his species-beating intelligence

(Image credit: TBC)

Beagle House Interactive Dog House by MVRVD

Beagle House Interactive Dog House by MVRVD. Starting simple, Architecture for Dogs tackled the classic kennel design, elevating it to new playful heights.  Every time your pooch enters or exits, the house answers with a subtle, affermative rocking motion. Take your dog-house for a walk with the rope attached, easy to move by both dog and owner, further aided by the lightweight wedge shape

(Image credit: TBC)

Chihuahua Cloud by Reiser and Unemoto

Chihuahua Cloud by Reiser and Unemoto. Less like doggy architecture, and more like doggy couture, the vibrant orange cloud simultaneously warms and stylises your pup. The billowing volume of the cloud responds to the Chihuahua’s love of burrowing and playing, and owners can grab the woven glove handle instead of a lead. In the cloud the dog is warm, secure and effortlessly chic

(Image credit: TBC)

Wanmock by Torafu Architects

Wanmock by Torafu Architects. Research shows Jack Russell terriers are happiest when laying on their masters clothes. A smooth wooden frame stretches your old jumpers or shirts providing a taut, comfortable arm-chair for your terrier, instilling a sense of peace security in your companion, as well as an attractive piece for your living room

(Image credit: TBC)

Papier Papilion by Shigeru Ban

Papier Papilion by Shigeru Ban. This multifunction piece fits around your papilion's whims: play, push, roll, jump over. Alternatively, us two-legs can use the paper cylinders to construct a seat for human family members

(Image credit: TBC)

No Dog! No Life! by Sou Fujimoto

No Dog! No Life! by Sou Fujimoto. A home inside a home, this space provides your four-legged friend with their own, delineated living space. The frame is made of hinoki (Japanese cypress), topped by a transparent acryllic board. Fill the upper shelves with puppy-memrobilia, and place a comfy cushion in the perfectly Boston terrier sized hole

(Image credit: TBC)

Architecture for Long-Bodied-Short-Legged-Dog by Atelier Bow-Wow

Architecture for Long-Bodied-Short-Legged-Dog by Atelier Bow-Wow. Becuase of their tiny (adorable) legs, daschunds struggle to get involved with human interaction, without humans crouching down to their level. No longer, thanks to Atelieir Bow-Wow. This fun, sloping decking is reminiscent of a highly finished Crufts obstacle, and is long enough for us humans to lay on too, so we can stretch out with our streched-out pups, on the level

(Image credit: TBC)

Mobile Home for Shiba by Toyo Ito

Mobile Home for Shiba by Toyo Ito. Here we have a well-ventilated wooden basket topped by a protective, adjustable shade. For pampered pets, and those that have aged or are unwell, your animal can enter and exit the mobile home without assistance thanks to the low crate sides. Finsihed with a vibrant, comfortable pillow, Shiba will enjoy an elegent roll through the park

(Image credit: TBC)

Architecture for the bichon frise by Kazuyo Sejima

Architecture for the bichon frise by Kazuyo Sejima. Dog and architecture become one as the reclining pup completes the cotton candy-like cloud bed. A simple structure of medium-density fibreboar cut into a belt shape and rounded into a ring bound by kite string for the base and dressed in a fluffy knitted coat

(Image credit: TBC)

Dog Cooler by Hiroshi Naito

Dog Cooler by Hiroshi Naito. Comprised of alternate aluminium tubes and comfortable wooden slats, the Dog Cooler provides essential calming comfort in humid environments. Designed in memory of Naito's old Spritz, Pepe, whose long, thick fur was uncomfortable in the sticky heat of the Japanese summer, now many dogs can benefit from this stylish, heat-regulator

(Image credit: TBC)

Pointed T by Hara Design Institute / Haruke Misawa

Pointed T by Hara Design Institute / Haruke Misawa. Designed for the Japanese terrier, anyone with a pair of scissors can make the Pointed T. Hanging from a string from the ceiling, the heavy paper is given definition by the thin neck hole. This ambiguous object is less house, more pointy hat, but nonetheless provides a unique space in which your dog can play

(Image credit: TBC)

Mount Pug by Kengo Kum

Mount Pug by Kengo Kuma. Hang toys and snacks from this self-supporting ply-wood mountain. The clever pug can make sense of its double-usage as plaything and nest

(Image credit: TBC)