Giving Shelter, a fund- and awareness-raising charity event benefiting critters in need, returned to Los Angeles last month not with a bang, not with a whimper but with a resounding meow.
And like with the previous L.A. edition of Giving Shelter held in 2014, a generous handful of esteemed architecture and design studios — HOK, Lehrer Architects, RNL and Perkins + Will, excuse, Purrkins + Will, among them — responded to the call for high-design cat houses.
The flagship initiative of nonprofit advocacy group Architects for Animals, Giving Shelter, which has also been held in New York and Washington, D.C., is noted for producing wacky, wild and whimsical animal cat shelters that defy easy description. They also appear to not be all that practical for the target clientele, which, in this instance, are L.A. street kitties. Perhaps you could compare these flashy feline digs to New Orleans’ Make it Right homes in that they’re big-hearted but ultimately more about the architectural razzle-dazzle.
However, as Leslie Farrell of Architects for Animals recently explained to CityLab, function ultimately does trump form and that participating architects weren’t allowed to go buck wild with their creations. No matter how eye-popping, the shelters had to be habitable and abide by a loose set of guidelines that required the designs to be playful, portable and able to accommodate two to three cats at once.
“I want them to use their creativity because part of this is to raise awareness,” Farrell tells CityLab. “When you ask the architectural community — these very cool, talented people — it helps change the perception of these suffering animals. If this group is willing to help, then [people] will think, ‘Oh, I can help, too.’”
That said, the handsome tabby that was cooperative enough to pose in and alongside each of the 12 showcased shelters for a photo shoot does indeed appear to be interested in them. But I do wonder if, like a high-fashion model that pines for sweatpants and a pair of Crocs, this photogenic kitty would prefer to take up residence in a plain old cardboard box? Isn’t that usually the story? You spoil your cat rotten with a fancy and expensive habitat but they reject it for the box that said fancy and expensive habitat came in?
Feline housing particularities aside, Giving Shelter, like the 2014 event which was also held at a Herman Miller showroom in Culver City, benefitted FixNation, a nonprofit that provides humane spay and neutering services for the L.A.'s homeless cat population. L.A. is home to one of the largest populations of stray cats in the country, estimated to be between 1 and 3 million.
"These cat shelters are absolutely remarkable,” Karn Myers, executive director of FixNation, said of the designs in a press release. “Some of the most talented architects and designers in the city are participating, creating innovative shelters that will not only help raise awareness about the plight of homeless cats, but also provide practical and humane solutions that can be implemented throughout our community.”
As for the all-important fundraising aspect, the sold-out March 10 event, described as “a unique cocktail reception,” was open to the public at $50 per head with proceeds benefitting FixNation.
What’s more, a collection of cat food bowls decorated by the likes of Beau Bridges, Jay Leno, William Shatner, Clint Eastwood and Betty White on display during the exhibition were subsequently snatched up in an eBay auction hosted by FixNation. Select shelters were also auctioned off online following the big event.
A Betty White-painted cat bowl? I want … and I don’t even have a cat.
Check out the rest of the hyper-stylish cat shelters displayed during Giving Shelter 2016 below ...
California Catscape by HOK (Photo: Architects for Animals/Meghan bob Photography)
String Theory by RNL (Photo: Architects for Animals/Meghan bob Photography)
California Cat Cube by Standard Architecture Design (Photo: Architects for Animals/Meghan bob Photography)
Kitty Kurves by Lehrer Architects (Photo: Architects for Animals/Meghan bob Photography)
Catleidoscope by Perkins + Will (Photo: Architects for Animals/Meghan bob Photography)
Lunar Cat Lander by KnowhowShop (Photo: Architects for Animals/Meghan bob Photography)
Cat-à-Tête by Formation Association, Arktura and BuroHappold (Photo: Architects for Animals/Meghan bob Photography)
Teatro de Gato by Pfeiffer Partners Architects (Photo: Architects for Animals/Meghan bob Photography)
Cat Club by Warren Office + Schmidt Designs (Photo: Architects for Animals/Meghan bob Photography)