Luke Wong, Director of Design for the Niedermaier, is also the CEO of Doca Pet (DOg Cat), a manufacturer that makes well-designed product for our beloved canines and felines. Trained at the School of the Arts Institute in Chicago, Mr. Wong trained in Interior Architecture but quickly became interested in products his hands could be involved in: custom furniture and 3-D sculpture. So when it came time to choose a food bowl for his Weimaraner, Madison, the answer was simple. “Everything in my apartment is built and designed by me. I didn’t want something that was already out there. I’m taking things slow.”
Armed with a few prototypes, Wong showed up at the Bakker Pet Trade Show in Rosemont, Illinois and found willing buyers. Production revolves around his hometown of Chicago, Illinois. “It gets frustrating working with China sometimes, and I wanted to try to gear towards the whole ‘Made in the USA’ thing,” he explained. “Not necessarily for selling purposes; it is a lot easier for me to drive 15 minutes and pick it up.”
Mr. Wong pragmatic nature extends to his designs as well, the pet bowls are sturdy and functional- yet have an attractiveness that we find completely missing from the marketplace. In addition to the line of bowls he has produced a peanut butter-scented toy soldier toy he’s called ‘dogface,’ slang for an Army footsoldier. The toy looks like an enlarged version of the classic plastic soldier, complete with gun. Madison, however, is not so picky with toys. “I see it as being fun; she likes everything and everything- even drywall.”
As far as the economic situation, Mr. Wong sees hotels and commercial spaces on the rebound and is currently working on projects as diverse as ships and hotel lobbies. The residential market appears to still be a bit slow, however. Asked for advice for newcomers looking for jobs, he states, “It will be difficult. A lot of people have been fired.” Some good advice followed: “You have to do things that separate you apart from everyone else.”
I can see his point; coming from a fellow who designed one of the most cool and iconic chew toys I have seen in over a decade.
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