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MiaCara co-founder Sebastian Zweig wasn’t always a pet guy, but his wife, Barbara, and their two sons wanted a dog. Cara the Labrador came into their lives and everything changed. Within two years, Zweig left his job at Swiss fine furniture manufacturer de Sede, and he and his wife launched MiaCara — a luxury design and lifestyle brand for dogs and cats and the aesthetically-minded humans who care for them.
MiaCara’s distinctly European designs are sustainably manufactured, using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified wood and recycled materials wherever possible. Most of their products are made in Europe, and their offices and warehouse are run using 100-percent renewable energy.
“We’re always looking for better ways to create durable, premium products with minimal impact on the planet,” says Zweig, “and we are committed to working with our customers, suppliers, and the wider community to play our part.” Even their packaging is made of FSC-certified cardboard and their products are shipped using 100-percent biodegradable paper tape without the need for plastic or styrofoam filling material.
And, of course, the products themselves — from beds, collars, rain coats, and leashes to litter boxes, toys, and scratching posts — are all absolutely gorgeous. Perfect for design-savvy humans and the pets they build their lives around.
Where did the idea for MiaCara come from?
Our Labrador, Cara, refused to even lay down on a new dog cushion because she was afraid of the rustle of the styrofoam ball filling, and we thought, This can be done better. We launched the brand in 2011 with the idea that form should follow function.
Your forms are so beautiful and architectural, though. Do you have a background in design?
No, absolutely not, but I always had an interest in design and architecture. I also have a passion for minimalist design that is functional, yet pleasing to the eye. I guess my very last job in the furniture industry [at de Sede] further honed my eye for holistic interior design and generated the urge to create nice, long-lasting objects that enhance your daily life.
Have you always been a pet person?
Not particularly. Back in 2009, when my wife and kids suggested that we get a dog, I was skeptical, but when Cara joined our family, I immediately fell in love with her. It was the best thing that could have happened to me, not just personally, but professionally as well.
We got our second dog, Molly, in 2011, and a Russian Blue cat, Mia, in 2015. Cara passed away in early 2018, and we eventually adopted Hugo from a Spanish shelter.
2015 is also when you launched your cat collection, MiaCara Gatto. Was she your inspiration?
We heard from a lot of our customers that they were buying items from our dog collection — a small cushion or a small feeder — for their cat. When we examined the market, we found that it was even more undeveloped than the dog market had been and we felt that the cat furniture, in particular, was just downright ugly.
Most people nowadays have indoor cats, so it is important to have a range of products that engage cats in activities and offer them everything from scratching and hiding to playing, sleeping, and feeding — like what they would find in their natural habitat, outdoors.
What’s your design process?
We always look at how we can best fulfill the needs of the animal and their owner first. Then we talk to our designers and challenge them to come up with a design concept that fulfills these needs and is unique and aesthetically pleasing. After a first prototype is made, we extensively test the products with a variety of cats. If the design is finalized, another prototype is tested for safety and compliance with international standards, such as [the European regulation system] REACH [Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals]. After all, we want to make sure that our products are safe and long-lasting.
Have you noticed a difference between the pet market in Germany — where your company is based — and the United States?
Somewhat, but as minimalist Scandinavian design has become more and more popular in both markets, the difference has become less and less. Anyone who cares about interior design doesn’t want some ugly pet product in their home. That’s where we come in, and it’s our hope that our products will enrich the lives of both pets and pet parents.
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Avery is a writer and producer. She has written for numerous publications, including Refinery29, BuzzFeed, and V Magazine. When she’s not at her computer, you can find her reading, practicing her Greek on Duolingo, and delving into the Sex and the City discourse. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and their cat, Chicken, who rules with an iron fist.