SEOUL Living in a cramped urban apartment with a feline friend and wary of letting him or her sink their claws into your furnishings?
A Korean designer may have the answer with his "Cat Tunnel Sofa," an ingenious combination of human sofa and tubular tunnels for a cat to clamber through while its owner relaxes.
The sofa combines modern industrial type design with a bent tube running from the floor in one corner to the arm rest in the other for cats to play in. There's a slot cut in the tube at the rear of the sofa for cats to poke their head through.
"When the cats first saw the sofa, they instinctively went into the tunnel as if they knew it was for them," said Seungji Mun, the designer of the sofa and a dog owner himself.
With 19.2 million households in South Korea home to pets, according to government figures, and more than half the country's 50 million people crammed into conurbations around the capital Seoul, space is at a premium and apartments are cramped.
"It's a living room where people spend most of their time together with their pets, not their room. I thought the sofa could be a place for communication between pets and their owners," said the 22-year-old designer, who will market the product in 2013.
The "Cat Tunnel Sofa" was Mun's graduation project with two other designers Yongjeh Park and Kangkyoung Lee. But it's likely the dog-lover will put his "Dog House Sofa" on the market before moving into feline furnishings.
"I love animals so I put myself in their place, wondering what would intrigue them," said Mun.
(Reporting By Jane Chung, Editing by Elaine Lies and Michael Perry)