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The only thing more fabulous than LUNGE’s new line of puffed-up Napa leather pet accessories is the campaign they shot to launch them. Inspired by ’80s Benetton ads and early 2000s fashion editorials, the photos are crisp, dynamic, and impeccably styled.
LUNGE founder Nicholas Schröder says he wanted to create images that gave a sense of dogs lunging through space with people who reminded him of the dog walkers he sees around NYC when out with his own dog, Twig.
“To bring the vision to life, I collaborated with Geelherme, an amazing photographer and director who used to be my work partner in Brazil and is currently the global creative lead at Sisley,” Schröder says. “Then we looked for people and pets that would bring fun energy to the set and felt like they would be part of the LUNGE community. Some of the dogs I already knew — including Twig, of course — while others were cast on the streets of NYC or via Instagram.”
The resulting images are the sort you’re more likely to find in a fine art gallery than your local pet superstore, but that’s perfectly in keeping with the spirit and quality of the products themselves. They look and feel like pieces true design connoisseurs — ones who can afford luxury brands, but wouldn’t be caught dead wearing some tacky designer logo, let alone inflicting such vulgarity on their pets — would actually buy and relish using.
“I started LUNGE as an experiment,” Schröder says. “I knew I wanted to bring contemporary design to pet products, and started thinking of playful ways I could do that. I focused on exploring form factors that were visually interesting while also making sure I wasn’t compromising comfort and function. The puffed leather felt like the perfect balance between these two worlds.”
The product is absolutely stunning. I’m obsessed! I must ask, though: Why Napa leather? It’s so buttery soft, and dogs are not known for treating their accessories gently.
It really was the best material for achieving the puffed form I was looking for, though, and I love how comfortable it is for both humans and pets. That said, I knew it would need to be reinforced for durability, so we added a resistant lining to the interior of the leash and worked with our factory partners to develop a unique grommet mold for LUNGE that features a longer base and short prongs that provide a better grip on the leather.
There aren’t any existing pet standards, so we tested our products using a standard typically used for footwear, belts, and straps. The leash can withstand about 80 pounds of force when used with the collar, and around 105 pounds when used with the harness, so LUNGE is safe for most dogs, although I wouldn’t recommend the products for the heaviest pullers. Yet!
You have a dog of your own, too: Twig. Tell me about him.
Twig is the love of my life. For years, I fell in love with every dog I saw on the street and flirted with the idea of getting my own. A close friend of mine had an Italian Greyhound, and it was through them that I learned how loving and special they are. Then I came across a breeder who had been working for more than 20 years near where I spent my childhood. She introduced me to Twig, and he hasn’t left my side since.
What’s the best thing about him?
He is the absolute biggest cuddler. This is a spooning household, so we’re the perfect match. He’s also a great travel companion — trains, cars, hiking, hotels; Twig loves it all. Whenever I have to leave the house without him, I see him staring at me through the window and it breaks my heart. I think he does it to get me to bring him more places. And it works!
In your press release for LUNGE, you said you wanted to “make restraint more playful.” What do you mean by that?
I think pet accessories are sort of inherently “unsexy”, so one of my goals was to make products that were both fun and appealing. Although there is a nod to kink, LUNGE is really for anyone — and their pets — who appreciates good design.
Tell me about your own design background. You actually have a day job at a creative design and branding agency in Brooklyn, right?
Yes. I work at PORTO ROCHA, leading operations and helping build the business alongside the company’s founders. I always knew I wanted to do something connected to design. I started in the strategy department of an advertising firm while I was still in college, and since then, I’ve worked at multiple creative and design agencies.
I’ve always leaned towards smaller studios and startup environments where I could take on a lot of responsibility and learn across multiple fields. Over the years, I realized I loved to be in the sweet spot between creative and operations — making things happen, but always with an eye to good design. I learned a lot from helping others launch their brands, including what I wanted to do differently with my own.
I don’t want to be guided by sales or the need to scale a business. Rather, I want to lean into my intuition and create something that’s fun and meaningful to me and different from other products out there.
I understand that your products are manufactured in Brazil. How did you choose your partners there?
I knew I wanted to keep production with local manufacturers and had frequently visited Novo Hamburgo, which is known for its leather production and close to where I grew up in Porto Alegre. Our factory partners have been audited and approved by the Leather Working Group and ABVTEX for ethical practices. We work with an onsite team that has built relationships with our partners over the years and make sure everything is running smoothly. Although I haven’t been able to visit the factory this year, I plan on making a trip home soon and can’t wait to meet everyone in person.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
There are so many designers I respect and would love to collaborate with: Martine Rose, Luar, BOTTER, LOEWE, and Kiko Kostadinov. They have such a fresh and unconventional approach and I really appreciate their use of bold colors and forms. I would love to collaborate with them on our essential products or even expand into new pet categories. I also love the idea of collaborating with home and interior brands like Muller Van Severen, Tekla, and Estúdio Rain.
What’s next for LUNGE?
Although I’m constantly planning ahead, I’m really trying to take this all one step at a time and be as present as possible. I’m excited to keep experimenting, evolving, and having fun, and I can’t wait to see the cute dogs of NYC showing off their new LUNGE looks.
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