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Design Notes

The Dog Bowl and the Litter Box Elevated to New Design Heights

May 18, 2000|CONNIE KOENENN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Having long produced cutting-edge furniture, fashions and automobiles, Italian designers are now turning their attention to the family pet.

At least some Italian designers are. Giulio Iacchetti and Ilaria Gilbertini are young Milan-based designers--and animal lovers--who have formed the United Pets company with this mission statement: "To merge smoothly two worlds, man and animal, in the shared environment of the home . . . by creating objects that give the same dignity to animals as their masters." They have introduced their first collection of pet accessories, which includes food and water bowls, litter boxes, food spoons and food-saver can lids. The collection, which utilizes lightweight but durable polypropylenes, comes in a trendy range of pastel aquamarines, blues, pinks and greens, as well as stronger shades, such as black and bright blues.

"They look like Alessi for pets," said Michelle Mercado, assistant gift store manager at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, the first Southern California shop to stock the collection. "The Italians are known for great design, even if it's just dog bowls."

U.S. distributors for United Pets is Esclusivo Italian Imports in Chicago, which specializes in finding new Italian products. "We started with stainless steel bottle-stoppers with different colored tops and couldn't keep them in stock," said sales representative Antonia Dermer.

"They make great housewarming gifts. Then we picked up an entire line of stainless steel tabletop pieces and now we have the new plastics."

The United Pets plastics collection was a hit at this year's Chicago Housewares Show, she said. "They are whimsical, and they put a little fun into an ordinary, everyday object." Prices range from $15 to $30 for bowls and $45 to $52 for a pet kit, which includes bowl, place mat, spoon and lid cover. Information: (847) 955-9332.

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A visit to the legendary mansions of the Vanderbilts, Carnegies and other illustrious families of historic Newport, R.I., will be offered this weekend at two Glabman's Furniture showrooms. Paul Miller, curator of the Preservation Society of Newport County, will present "A Look at the Grand Lifestyles of Newport's High Society."

His audio-visual presentation focuses on 19th century fine furniture and today's reproductions. It is scheduled for Saturday at Glabman's Costa Mesa showroom, 3089 Bristol St.; and Sunday at the West Los Angeles showroom, 2250 S. Barrington Ave. Presentations are at 11 a.m., 2 and 4 p.m. each day. Registration for the free seminars: (800) 711-5400.

Connie Koenenn may be reached at connie.koenenn@latimes.com.

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