They say necessity is the mother of invention, so perhaps it's no surprise that in 2017 a design made for one of our great obsessions, and mans best friend, is experiencing plenty of success.
K9 Connectables, described as 'the mental challenge for dogs', are dog toys designed with the assistance of an innovation voucher from the IDEA Centre at South West College, and which recently achieved success at the Irish Design Awards.
They are the first solo venture from designer James McIlvenna, who has previously worked in various areas of design in Ireland and China.
James explains how the creation came about. 'It all started when my wife surprised me with a puppy, a Labrador called Sandy. Sandy had a lovely personality and extremely high energy, and despite lots of walks and attention we struggled to channel her energy which often led to destructive behaviour.'
It was a need to channel this canine energy that led to K9 Connectables, and after the original idea and preliminary designs, South West College played a part when James applied for an innovation voucher in 2015.
The IDEA Centres facilities, including 3D printing, allowed James to produce prototypes and work on various designs. Over a hundred prototypes were tested on hundreds of dogs, and work was carried out with dog behaviour experts and trainers.
James says, 'we created a team of designers, marketers and industry experts with the aim of designing a range of toys that would stimulate the dogs, engage her senses and satisfy her desire to tear and break things apart.'
All this came together to produce the company Dog Day Design LTD , and the first range of K9 Connectables, all under the mantra of helping to alleviate common problems for dog owners such as boredom, loneliness, separation anxiety and lack of mental stimulation.
Having had success on the market, K9 Connectables received recognition at the Irish Design Awards this year. They won best in category for Consumer Product, and James also won the Best Emerging Talent Award.
The search for success continues with the Public Choice Award, voting for which remains open until noon Friday 20th October.
K9 Connectables entry in this category is based on the ethos of the business: that 'for 1000's of years, dogs have been bred to do specific jobs for human beings, and in the last 100 years that has been flipped on its head where pet dogs have become more of a companion than working dog. With increased urbanisation and busy lives dog owners are finding it difficult to satisfy all the needs of a canine. When a dog does not get enough physical exercise AND mental stimulation a host of behavioural problems can form which include; * Boredom * Loneliness * Obesity * Anxiety * Destructive behavior.
K9 Connectables meet the brief of their objectives as their 'completely unique dog toys entertain and challenge dogs for sustained periods of time, are excellent for mental stimulation and exercise, and engage dogs primal instincts.'
You can vote for K9 Connectable here.