Vazken Kara Gozian could no longer endure the war in his homeland of Syria. So, in 2012, he left for Dubai to pursue his passion for interior design. “Since I was in high school, I was always curious about interior design and the potential to create intentional and mindful spaces that have the ability to evoke emotion,” he says. Little did he know, he’d never be able to return to his country. He was pondering his next move when his parents had to seek safety — and they picked the great north. “They chose Toronto as we had some relatives here,” Gozian says. “And Canada was offering a hope for a new start.”
Gozian thrived here in Toronto, working on residential, hospitality and commercial interior design projects worldwide. “Toronto first allowed me to be the person who I always wanted to be,” he says. “It offered a huge diverse, talented design scene, which gave me the opportunity to work at world class design firms that shaped me to become the designer that I am today.”
Then the pandemic hit and, like many, Gozian was laid off. And, like many, he then started spending large swathes of time shopping for his beloved pets, a pair of rescue cats named Grayson, a three-year-old grey boy, and Ella, a two-year-old tabby gal. First on the list: a stylish cat tree. But there was a snag: they were impossible to find. “Few options were available for cat furniture that considered both function and esthetics,” according to Gozian. He decided to put his interior design skills to use and create his own, and thus his new line of chic cat trees, Papuk, meowed into life. Their tag line? Human-friendly cat furniture.
Over the next two years, Gozian, Grayson and Ella, along with a few other friends with cats, test-drove prototypes to ensure that the final product scored an A+ in both form and function. Along the way, they made it more and more stable and fine-tuned the toy accessories to be as alluring as possible for the pickier feline fans. “With Papuk, I wanted to fill a gap in the pet furniture market with a unique modular approach to design and personalization, and a careful balance between functionality and esthetics,” he says. “Our first collection features a cat tree that can be personalized with a series of attachable accessories.”
The tree itself has strong minimalist Nordic vibes, all sleek blond wood and rounded edges. Gozian made it strong and sturdy to last, unlike many of the pretty yet terrifyingly spindly options available via online mega-retailers. “Our commitment to the highest standard of materials and craftsmanship ensures our cat tree endures the test of playtime for years to come,” he says. “We seek to create a perfect balance of both function from the feline perspective while maintaining a modern design esthetic that humans love.” Fun add-ons like toy balls and dainty cushions can be tailored to each cat’s preference, or simply evolve the tree over time to keep things exciting; soon, clients can also add a small scratching pad or food tray as well.
Papuk clients are, he says, overcome with relief to find an option that isn’t a hideous carpet-covered mess and actually looks quite lovely in your living room. He’s even going to honour their requests to branch out into bolder shades, so the maximalist design fans will have some non-hideous options, too. “Because I believe that humans and cats can live together,” he says, “without having to sacrifice the beauty of our home, for the comfort of theirs.”
Looking for some more stylish items for the chic kitty in your life? Upgrade the ol’ ball of string and bag of Temptations to one of these artisanal options, made right here in Ontario
Toronto is filled with cannabis stores, and now your feline friend can get some of the good stuff, too. Hit the Catnip Dispensary Inc. for a variety of different strains of high-end ’nip, including “indicat” and “cativa” varieties sure to please even the pickiest furry stoner. Catnip Dispensary Inc. catnip, $12 to $20, catnipdispensary.ca SHOP HERE
Skip the processed stuff and go au naturel for your kitty’s treats with these delicious little bites of 100 per cent rabbit, preservative-free and totally tasty. Best of all? You’re supporting an Indigenous-run business creating single-ingredient snacks out of ethically farmed critters. Shade of Gray cat treats, $6, indigenoustreats.ca SHOP HERE
Life hack: get a cat toy that dangles from your doorknob so they can have all the playtime they like, even when you’re not around. The dangling bell provides the amusement, the minimalist leather design brings the esthetic. Karen Gunna Genuine Leather Designs cat toy, $40 to $44, karengunna.com SHOP HERE
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