....for pets afflicted by SSD (species specific disabilities)

Started on 29/09/2003

Additional collaborators: Mikkel Koser ( Mark Hauenstein ( Alexandra Von Feldmann (

“Design for, or around, pets….” Royal College of Art brief

We created a ‘pet attribute matrix’. Assigning each pet arbitrary scores against criteria such as: playfulness, cuddle-ability, decoration, etc. We then played the pets off against one another. In doing so we identified species with inherent (criteria specific) disabilities.

The following 3 outcomes are attempts to solve these problems.


Problem: Fish are the ultimate decorative pet, but physical contact is a very important part of your pet/person relationship; there are no opportunities to get physical with your fish, (they even ignore you when you look and speak directly to them).

Solution: The ‘Fish Airium’ is a large, ladle like, tool with a very long handle that curves into a hook shape. The bowl of the ladle has a ring of small holes around its circumference, at about half the bowl’s depth. Above the bowl is a circular tray. Individual fish can be caught from their tank using the bowl of the Airium. Excess water drains from the holes; consequentially the fish is constrained to lie on its side. The hooked shape of the Airium enables it to be hung on the arm of a sofa or chair. The Arium’s tray could support a bowl of popcorn or cup of tea. You can now relax and spend time stroking and tickling your fish; you know you have its undivided attention as it stares up at you.


Problem: Some people love snakes because of their reptilianism; cold blood, scales, rippling muscle, unblinking eyes, poison fangs. Many people hate snakes for exactly these reasons. How can we reduce the perceived reptilian characteristics and increase the perceived mammalian characteristics?

Solution: the ‘snake mitt’ is a long, thin, furry sock that can be slipped over your snake from tail to head. In order to prevent the snake simply slithering free of the mitt there is a muzzle at the open (head) end. This muzzle is sculpted to represent a mammalian snout, complete with whiskers and unintimidating goofy teeth. Mounted on this snout are a pair of thick-rimmed spectacles. These spectacles magnify the snake’s emotionless, reptilian, eyes to oversized bush-baby proportions. Your snake is now; soft, furry, tickly, goofy and doe eyed.


Problem: tortoises are very slow.

Solution: It is quite easy to become bored of playing with a tortoise. This is due to the difference in speed that tortoises and humans perceive their environment. Remember that your tortoise may be having a very slow, exciting time, (slow for the human but exciting for the tortoise). The ‘tortoise rectifier’ is a small (tortoise sized) helmet; for your tortoise. Mounted on the helmet is a miniature video camera. You go to work in the morning and say ‘goodbye’ to your tortoise, (attaching the Tortoise Rectifier). When you return that evening you say ‘hello’ to your tortoise, (remove the Tortoise Rectifier). You can then connect the TR to your TV or PC. By watching the day’s footage at high speed the difference between human and tortoise perception is rectified. Using the Tortoise Rectifier you can retroactively play with your tortoise at human speed.