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Small Pawprint Living

On the aftermath of Take Your Dog To Work Day, we chat with Eugenia Lim from talented multi-disciplinary practice Assemble about Chips, a rescue greyhound, oxytocin and small footprint living.

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Small Pawprint Living

On the aftermath of Take Your Dog To Work Day, we chat with Eugenia Lim from talented multi-disciplinary practice Assemble about Chips, a rescue greyhound, oxytocin and small footprint living.

Tell us a bit about Assemble.
Assemble is an architecture, design and property development company focused on small footprint living. We also publish an online magazine called Assemble Papers, which explores the culture of living closer together across art, design, architecture, urbanism, the environment and financial affairs. We are a tight-knit team based in Melbourne. With backgrounds in architecture, design, property and finance, we joined forces in 2010, spurred to action by the increasing absence of affordable, well-designed housing in Australian cities. We’ve been searching for a location to build our vision since securing the support of an investor just over a year ago. In this time, Assemble Papers has spoken to some of the world’s most interesting thinkers and doers about their work across small footprint living and creativity, including Alain de Botton, Jan Gehl, Natalie Jeremijenko and Marcus Westbury.

How does pet ownership fit your approach to into urban living?
Having pets is good for homes, workplaces and wellbeing and, as more and more people now live alone in cities all over the world, canine companionship might just be the ticket to greater happiness. In 2009, Japanese researchers found that the reason why the reciprocity between humans and dogs is so strong is that it’s controlled by oxytocin — the same “love” hormone that connects mothers and newborns and reduces anxiety and depression. Interestingly, Australia has the highest rate of pet ownership in the world, yet research suggests that up to 20% of rental households are forced to keep pets illegally. We feel strongly that pet ownership contributes to a happy life, and should be advocated for whether you live in the city or beyond. We do whatever we can to push the pro-pet agenda: Chips is often “the face” of our operation and we are working towards an inner-city residential project that is pet-friendly for renters and owners alike.

Whats Chips’ effect at the studio?
Chips is the unofficial Assemble studio mascot. She joined the team at the same time as her “mum”, me—it was part of the employment contract! She is a funny, quiet creature who is mostly very calm, practically comatose in the corner, sleeping and dreaming for hours on end. She also acts as our “welcoming committee”, greeting people at the door with some tail wags and the occasional crotch-height sniff (conveniently or unconveniently, she’s just the right height!).

Does Chips enjoy interacting with your team and clients?
As soon as we all arrive on the scene in the morning, she goes up to each staff member at their desk and greets them with a few tail wags and an inquisitive sniff. She does laps around the office when she’s looking for pats, so yes, she’s a bit of an attention seeker when she’s not asleep. We had a visit today from some lovely clients who brought their own four-legged “mini-Chips”, an Italian greyhound named (confusingly) Pino. That was certainly one of the cutest meetings we’ve had on site.

And how does she affects you personally?
Chips’ snooze-corner is next to me and she keeps me smiling, even in the face of deadlines. Around midday, Chips wakes up and starts snuffling around, hassling me for a walk. It’s a reminder to go outside and actually it’s become an essential part of my workday to get away from my laptop and to accompany her down to the Merri Creek for a brisk stroll. Her happiness is infectious. Chips is an ex-racing rescue greyhound and we (myself and my partner Quino) adopted her because firstly, sighthounds are lovely, gentle souls and secondly, for ethical reasons, I’ve always believed in rehoming and caring for animals who would otherwise face an uncertain future. Chips is definitely the boss.

So Chips rules the place…
No-one knows how to work the room like Chips. We’ve had a few parties and events at the studio and Chips is the ultimate ice breaker.

Any disadvantage?
The “silent but deadlies”!


Photography by Eugenia Lim and Tanja Milbourne
assembleprojects.com.au
assemblepapers.com.au

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