Pet products are so much more than utilitarian necessities. From treats to toys and beyond, what you buy for your pet is a reflection of their personality—and your own.
That’s why Ryan Carter, the creative director behind the modern cat scratchers from Park & Bench, set out to create a line of cat products that are as unique as you and your pet. A designer and creative director who’s obsessed with music and immersed in South Florida’s vibrant cultural landscape, Carter’s mission is to elevate the pet products we need so that they become home décor we can love as much as our furry friends do.
Get to know Carter, his design process, and how he takes inspiration from his own life and pet to dream up the products at Park & Bench.
Before we get started, we have to ask about your own pet. Tell us about your cat!
Carter: Yes, Chanel is a rescue cat my wife and I adopted about 11 or 12 years ago. I’m originally from Guyana, and I didn’t have pets of my own but there were always animals around. So, when we decided to adopt Chanel, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Starting out, we butted heads because cats, as anyone knows, can be very particular—it’s their way or the highway!
But as I got into a routine of caring for her, we grew closer, and over the years we’ve become best friends.
Does Chanel influence your work at Park & Bench?
Absolutely! Recognizing Chanel’s unique personality was a driver in creating some of these products. Honestly, just watching her and living with her has been a huge inspiration—we know our pets have personality, but day-to-day they become kind of an extension of our lives. So, we wanted products that celebrate cats and their uniqueness and style. They deserve something special!
Tell us about the inspiration behind your designs.
Culture is a huge driver for me. Growing up in inner-city Miami as an immigrant, my experiences, my life, is so textured. I grew up with very little, and that forced me to be resourceful. That helped me to ask questions during my design process, like, how can I design a product that is stylish but affordable, unique but not intrusive?
Culture is always moving, always changing, and design, in general, almost always borrows from different cultures. I’ve been fortunate to experience Miami, where people and cultures are entangled. From food to music to art, Miami truly is a cultural melting pot. Many of my design cues come from the city’s vibrance, the restorative magic of its water and the resilience of its people.
I was also a hip-hop artist and a musician for a number of years, so I found my passion with music early on. Music is definitely a huge source of inspiration for me.
So, how do you take all that inspiration and turn it into something tangible—in this case, pet products?
When I was looking into how to create a product that’s unique to the market, I focused on what I knew. Music was a definite inspiration when I was working on the designs for Park & Bench. I’m a huge music fan—I can’t overstate it. So, once I knew we were going to launch the brand with a series of cat scratchers as our first product line, I leaned into that. I created a guitar design, for example.
Five Fast Questions with Ryan Carter
- What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to? Kanye West’s Yeezus Tour.
- What’s your favorite part of living in Miami? It’s a toss-up between the food and weather. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
- What’s Chanel’s favorite Park & Bench scratcher? Channel Loves the “Tremolo” scratcher. It was love at first scratch.
- Who are your heroes when it comes to design? Dieter Rams is a massive influence. His “Ten Principles for Good Design” is my north star.
- What’s your favorite way to spend time with your cat? I tend to get into my creative zone late at night and in the early morning, and Chanel often keeps me company while I create in those quiet moments. She’s like my feline assistant.
Park & Bench’s scratchers definitely stand out—they don’t look like anything else out there. For you, what makes these novel cat scratchers so cool, for both cats and pet parents?
The Park & Bench products walk that line of being an extension of the home decor, while providing all the creature comforts cats want and expect. The scratchers both seamlessly blend into the home aesthetics and stand out as fresh take on something that goes beyond boring cardboard.
The goal is for any pet parent to be happy to show off the design and not feel like it’s an eyesore in their home.
For the cats who will be using the products the aim is the same: Create something that takes their existing environment and makes it even better.
I’ll look at my cat’s favorite places in the home, such as a closet—something that’s dark but also soft—and create a space that’s inviting for them, like the cave in the Tremolo scratcher. The mission of Park & Bench blends this all together: to celebrate our pets and our bonds by creating products that express their unique style and our own.
What’s next for Park & Bench?
We absolutely plan to expand. We started with cat scratchers, but we plan to get into “eats and sleeps” —food and water bowls, beds, different types of stuff. And stuff for dogs and other different types of pets, too! My vision is a whole holistic brand where cats, dogs and other unique pets all have a seat at the table.
BeChewy’s Makers series celebrates the creatives and small businesses behind our favorite unique and innovative products for pets and their parents. We’re excited to share their stories and hope you’re inspired to support their work.
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