Although Cloud7 has only been around for a couple of years, the products the brand designs and develops are timeless. Simple and contemporary, designed with acute attention to detail (and lots of passion), Cloud7 is one of those rare brands that make their products essential.
Based in Berlin, Cloud7 is the brainchild of designer Petra Jungebluth (who cut her teeth with brands such as Strenesse, Tommy Hilfiger and Liz Claiborne during her extensive career in fashion and marketing), and husband Todd Schulz, a former creative director with international ad agencies Wieden&Kennedy and M&C Saatchi, who leads the brand’s communication aspects. We catch up with Petra and Todd to talk about how Cloud7 was born, the relentless pursuit for quality and the need for occasional holidays.
Although you have been around only for a couple of years, Cloud7 feels surprisingly established. How do you feel after the first two years?
We remember the day when we went to our first fair, Tendence, in Frankfurt, an international interior fair, to showcase our first collection. Our booth had nine square meters and we were surrounded by big interior brands with their impressive design stands — for the first couple of hours people just kept walking by without giving us any notice. And for that moment you begin to worry if your idea of a new design label for pet products especially for the interiors market was just a complete misunderstanding. Now, two years later we have wonderful retail partners in currently 25 countries, and very soon even in Australia, and for a designer there can’t be a nicer compliment than seeing that your original idea is relevant and accepted by exactly the kind of people that you wanted to reach.
It is clear there are two very design-savvy, quality-driven minds at work here. What’s your design ethos?
We can’t ignore being German. We like simple, straightforward design and produced in the best quality possible. The design of our pet products should express and represent the relationships between people and their dogs. Judging people’s view of their dogs by most pet products on the market, people seem to see their dogs either as funny clowns or spoiled divas. We personally haven’t met anybody who is seeing his dog in that way.
I believe Cloud7 follows principles of eco-friendliness and fair trade…
We only use high quality textiles from controlled organic farming for our products and work with production houses within reach. This not only has an influence on our production costs, it also complicates the whole design and production process. And finding all the right ingredients and partners demanded a very long research process, but for us it has always been clear that we would never use textiles that have been treated with pesticides. It just feels wrong to support the usual production ways that not only harm the dog’s health, but also disrespect the people who work for us.
Your dog beds and bowls are hand-made. How are they produced?
As we are not serving to the mass market, we are in the luxurious position to choose people who share our thinking. It is very nice to know every one involved in the production process in person. We have visited many companies until we found a nice family owned business just across the border in Poland, who are sewing all our dog beds and toys. All the latex flakes for the mattresses are stuffed by hand. For our ceramic bowls we were lucky to find Jean, who is one of the few guys who can still fabricate following an old pottery tradition. It’s a very fragile crafting process and as rare talent often comes with a unique personality, we have to ask our customers for a little bit of patience sometimes.
Having work with big well-known fashion brands and ad agencies, how does it feel to run your own show?
The big difference compared to working in an established institution is that in your own small business you are suddenly confronted with various issues you had no clue about. Instead of having a special department for every special task, you are now head of design, production, transport, import, customs, cost control, human resources, and so on. But in the end you are your own boss and you can just do what you personally think is right.
We absolutely love the campaign images of dogs and their owners.
Tell a bit about who the people and the photoshoot.
A big credit here goes to Janne Peters. She is a great editorial photographer from Hamburg and she came up with the initial idea. Apart from a few people who are from our personal community, most others have been street cast when we were walking our own dog and later photographed at their homes. It’s a coincidental mix of characters showing a waiter, boutique owner, cook, illustrator, 3D animator, homeopath, flight attendant, an artist and others. We bring out a large format brochure twice a year showing all the portraits, with some additional information about our brand and products.
Based on experience, we designers can become obsessive, especially when working on a project that is personal. What are your thoughts?
Every Cloud7 product has to be something that we would want to buy ourselves. Sometimes the initial idea can come very quick, but the finishing process, finding the right textiles, the right colours, the little design twist, the yarn, etc. can sometimes take a very long time. You feel a big responsibility, because compared to working for bigger brands, where the designer is only one element in a complex process that has to respond to many different demands with your own brand you have no excuses. If the product in the end is not as good as you wanted, it there is no one else to blame but yourself.
How do you manage working together being a couple?
The roles are pretty defined. Petra does the design and has the last word. Todd does the communication and has the last word. Against all odds, things are moving quite smoothly this way.
What personality traits help you the most in regards to Cloud7?
I think it is simply combining my love for design with my love for dogs (says Petra).
If you had the chance, would you do anything differently?
Maybe a short holiday every now and then would have been good (says Todd).
And the name Cloud7…
That came rather quick while watching TV. We were looking for something that expresses how the dog should be feeling when living with our products, something light and non rational. We knew from the beginning that we wanted to operate internationally. So the name had to work globally. In Germany we have a similar saying to yours in English. Being on ‘Wolke 7’ , which is the same as your ‘Cloud 9’. We just mixed the two. The letters looked nice standing next to each other and it had a little twist and also the nice side effect that we were staying away from any overcomplicated copyright situations. In the end finding the name was a lot simpler than finding the right typeface.
And finally, what’s next?
We are in the middle of designing variations of our existing product range of dog beds, travel beds, bowls, toys and cushions and also developing new categories like leashes and collars, as well as travel bags, which we are planning to present on the Paris’ Maison & Objet fair in September.
All photography courtesy of Cloud7
For more information and to check the product range, click here
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