design:retail - July 2017 - 50
→ Warm, natural
used to create
the feeling of
hile pet adoption
centers shelter adorable, loveable, furry
friends in need of good homes, the reality is that
most of these spaces offer visitors and volunteers
alike less-than-appealing experiences. Often,
they're drab, loud and chaotic-they, sadly, look
like prisons. But non-profit Best Friends Animal
Society is changing that stereotype through a
collaboration with Los Angeles-based boutique
design practice RA-DA Architects. With the help of
designers, the adoption experts have brought a oneof-a-kind shelter-meets-retail experience to New
York's SoHo neighborhood, inspired by the group's
large-scale sanctuary in scenic Kanab, Utah.
The goal was two-prong. First, to beckon passersby to explore the stylish, clean, wood-clad space
and change their perceptions of the adoption process to help cats and dogs find their forever homes.
Second, to provide a safe, sanitary and calming
experience to the animals they house. But further,
Best Friends Animal Society created the chic Manhattan storefront as an act of advocacy to educate
the public to support their greater mission: to take
the United States to a 90 percent save rate by 2025 to
end the practice of killing dogs and cats at shelters.
This noble mission and "being able to turn the
prototype on its head, being able to do something
that is good design and works toward a cause," was
the most rewarding takeaway in designing the shelter, explains Rania Alomar, principal and owner of
The "industry" of animal care facilities has,
for years now, been "crying out for good design,"
Alomar says, adding that the SoHo location serves as