Lap of Luxury Pet Tuffets create an opulent place for your pet by Stacey Waspe
Gina Gibaldi's decorative beds for pets are more likely to be considered pieces of sculpture than furniture for your puppy (regardless of how pampered), but that, in fact, is just what they are: beautifully designed, hand-made works of art that can be customized just for you and Fifi or Fido.
Lap of Luxury Pet Tuffets has fashionable, functional totes as well, so not only will you never be without your little princess again while you're out running errands, but you'll be the envy of all with one of these funky bags. Although the dictionary defines tuffets as "low seats or stools", you can also think of the nursery rhyme, "Little Miss Muffet," which was the inspiration for the name. (In future, we think there will be a picture of one of Gina's beds in the dictionary beside the word "tuffet"!)
We recently spoke with Gina Gibaldi, owner of Lap of Luxury Pet Tuffets, about her out of this world pet chaises and totes.
pp: Why did you decide to create Lap of Luxury Pet Tuffets?
gg: It's actually an interesting story. I had an antique doll bed that my great great grandfather made. For my husband and I, our dogs are like our kids. At the time, Keiko, our black and tan Shiba Inu, had been out of her crate for a year and sleeping on our bed. She took to this doll bed amazingly and we got our bed back. When we got our second dog, Buddy, a Pekingese/Shih Tzu, we crate trained for at least 9 months. It was winter, and I wanted something cozy and decorative in the bedroom. Dogs are den animals by nature; while the drape was quite sheer, they feel really safe inside the tent. That bed was really the first "Harem".
I also wanted to make a long bench in the living room beneath the front window, so that Keiko and Buddy could watch the world go by; I didn't want an ugly, plaid thing that you hide when company arrives. So like the beds, I matched the bench to my interiors. I decided that I should create and sell these beds after going to an art show where people were displaying their dogs as accessories. Dogs are everywhere!
These are more than just beds, really. Dogs lounge all day long, in every room, not just at night in a bedroom. So I make more of a throne for them, more of their "own" chair or lounger. In other words, "a tuffet".
pp: What sets your beds apart from typical beds that most owners use for their pets? Why do you think it's important for pets to have their own space?
gg: I didn't want to do a new rendition of a cushion. I wanted my beds to be sculptural accessory items and not just for the bedroom. I want exquisite detail in them, whether it requires me to search for a particular button or tassel or find great fabrics in the perfect colors. I love to visit clients in their own homes, matching interiors to the fabrics and trims that I use. It's the custom element that sets them apart.
With tuffets, your dog can still be a part of the action, but she'll have her own perch. You can regain your own dog furniture and the dog feels more secure because she'll have her own place. They're good for her mental comfort as well as yours.
pp: Do you design all of your products yourself, including the totes? If yes, how do you come up with your designs? What are your design inspirations?
gg: I've designed each of the tuffets and totes. Keiko was the inspiration for my signature piece, the Paw Print Chaise. She used to lay on a futon, and the angle of the futon cushion got me thinking that I'd like to make something with a curve -- a fainting chair or chaise came to mind, even though I had no idea how to make one. After some false starts, we now have a fiberglass curve that we've preordered, and we buy the claw legs, but the entire rest of the chaise is made by hand. The Corner tuffet was designed for a particular client that didn't have a lot of space and wanted something that could be placed in a corner. It has hand painted glass feet, which keeps drafts off of your baby because it's elevated off the floor. And it was an opportunity to use a lot of fabric, which is my passion. The palm tree ("the Oasis") was something I couldn't resist trying to make. I wanted to make a scratching post that didn't look like a scratching post and it was inspired by all of the palm trees around my area here in Florida.
I read a lot of home decorating and style magazines to keep up with trends in human decorating, like trends in fabrics and colors. All of the tuffets on our website we make and sell at shows and at certain stores, but we're really geared to doing custom work, to match your lifestyle and decorating tastes.
pp: We love all your tuffets, especially the Paw Print Chaise. What's your most popular tuffet?
gg: We've made more harems than anything else. The harem and the corner crown are similar in a lot of ways, because of the draping of the fabric. The harem is washable, easy to dismantle and move, far more mobile other pieces. The Corner is larger with a wood box base.
Our totes are all in same style, but made with different fabrics. Many of them are one of a kind because there wasn't enough fabric to create two alike, which means that you won't see anyone else with your tote. I found a great fabric of dogs in little fur coats and I've embellished the pockets of the tote with faux fur to match. They're really cute. I've also found some boutique, designer fabrics that are really yummy.
pp: Can you make tuffets for any size dog?
gg: Generally our tuffets and totes are suited to companion dogs. The tuffets are great for dogs that are 30-35 lbs or less, like pugs and maltese. I did make one for a sheep dog once, a massive faux suede cushion, but that really was an exception. Obviously to make a harem big enough to fit a German Shepherd, you'd need a lot of fabric.
All of our cushions are gusseted, which allows me to stuff the cushions more densely. The fill we use won't clump together and feels very much like down. But it will retain its shape and feel, and I can make the cushions very taut or loose and feathery. Regardless, the dog is always supported -- her bones will never be on the floor.
pp: What did you do before you started making luxury dog products for pets? What's the most rewarding part of running Lap of Luxury?
gg: I worked for 20 years in the advertising business. Getting dogs in my life caused a big light bulb to go off. I wanted to do something a little more soul fulfilling, to fuel my passions, which prompted me to change careers. I've always been an artist by advocation, doing mostly drawing, but one of my passions has always been fabric. It gives you color and texture. Plus I'm an animal lover. I love making animals happy.
I have clients that send me a photograph back who are just thrilled to death to create something special for their baby, a beautiful piece that both they and their dogs love. Everybody is wagging their tail!
I've found that animal people are a certain type of human. I do a lot of things on trust, since I'm dealing with people sight unseen, often via long distance phone calls or via email. Everybody is fabulous.
pp: Why do you think there has been such an increase in demand for luxury dog products & services in the last 10 years?
gg: I think there are two answers to this question. First of all, there are the "donks" like my husband and I: "dog obsessed, no kids". We don't have children, so we can treat our dogs as kids, we have the money to spend on decorating our homes and pampering our pets.
Secondly, there are a lot of single women in the late 20's and early 30's that have dogs. The dog is the most important "person" in their life. While Mom is at work, these dogs go to doggie day care.
Also, many people want to travel, and they like having "companion" size dogs that can go with them.
pp: We've heard a little rumor that you've got some new products in the works. What plans do you have for the future of Lap of Luxury?
gg: The boutiques that carry my beds have limited floor space, and wanted smaller custom pieces. Since another of my passions is beading jewelry, I thought I could do something really different. There isn't anybody really making anything for Mom. Mom loves jewelry herself, so I've come up with a line of necklaces for Mom and three-tiered, three rowed beaded collars for puppy. Personalization is important to me, and I like to make people one-of-a-kind pieces. We're doing "photo" charms as well as alphabet beads to create really hip looking pendants. It's an exciting time for us.
pp: Tell us a little about your dogs.
gg: Buddy is the official company mascot, my best model and sits really still for photographs; I keep telling Buddy "I'm going to make you famous". Keiko, on the other hand, doesn't care to please mom and doesn't like to sit still for pictures.
For complete information regarding Lap of Luxury Pet Tuffets, visit www.luxurypettuffets.com.