Can Cat-Friendly Design Be Chic?

Enter the lobby of The Algonquin on West 44th Avenue in New York Town, and appropriate away you are going to detect that a contemporary redesign by architects Stonehill Taylor has ushered this warmly subtle literary haunt into its 2nd stylish century. There is luxurious, velvet drapery, clever lighting structure that recalls the hotel’s theatrical heritage, and an art set up created from previous guest publications that appears to be to float higher than the reception desk. There’s even a cozy complicated of hiding destinations, portholes, and irresistibly scratchable surfaces for the satisfaction of the concierge.

We really should pause here to make clear that the concierge in dilemma is a cat.

You most likely know The Algonquin from tales of the claws-out witticisms of Dorothy Parker and the “vicious circle” of writers, actors, and musicians who frequented the famed Round Table—this is the spot exactly where Harold Ross and his spouse, Jane Grant, set up The New Yorker magazine, in 1925. But if you have nevertheless to make your 1st go to, you might not know that the lodge has experienced an official Resident Cat on and off considering that the 1920s. The cat that presently occupies the post—an affectionate, orange, tabby rescue named Hamlet VIII—is the 12th in the hotel’s background.

Some of the a lot less feline-centric furnishings in the foyer of The Algonquin.

Photo: Eric Laignel

New lighting in the 1902 Beaux Arts hotel.

Photo: Eric Laignel

So not too long ago, when it was crystal clear that the grand 1902 Beaux Arts landmark was owing for an update, the desires of its furry mascot have been not overlooked. In simple fact, architects Stonehill Taylor reconceived the reception spot with features intended for the comfort and ease of individuals and felines alike, all the even though conveying the story of The Algonquin’s rich theatrical and literary historical past. 

Willis Loughhead, the hotel’s basic supervisor, suggests that Hamlet VIII spends about 40% of his time “checking in guests” at reception, which is now furnished with a cat house. Sara Duffy, a Stonehill Taylor principal and the direct designer on this venture, summed up the exclusive obstacle this way: “My very first purpose was to style a little something really fantastic for the hotel—that’s constantly our target, we want to be inspiring, but how do we style this so it doesn’t seem like a pet retail store? We wanted it to come to feel subtle.”

Image: Eric Laignel

Pet fans who regular the aisles of mega-marts in lookup of stimulating toys or cozy beds know this issue all much too perfectly. Apart from the deluxe, minimalist offerings of firms like Tuft and Paw (feel of them as the Room & Board of the cat furniture house), most goods that are built to delight animals introduce flashing lights, squeaky noises, feathers, corrugated cardboard, and electric powered-hued plastic into our homes. Could Hamlet VIII thrive in a environment that was correctly exquisite, delicate to the hotel’s rich background, and even glamorous? It turns out he can—and a lot of the time, attendees might not even understand he’s taking pleasure in his new digs just over their shoulder.

When Loughhead started his new occupation at the lodge in 2021, the news that he would be “adopting Hamlet” arrived as a little bit of a surprise, but he diligently investigated the property’s history—and scrolled by The Algonquin Cat Instagram feed—to get a sense of how this uncommon arrangement would function. Duffy notes that in previous generations, oversight of the resort cat was rather laissez-faire—she even remembers this from visiting the hotel as a baby: “He was not often [in the lobby]. He was about, but they could not locate him. Initially, the cats ended up ready to roam freely and you’d see them in the elevator, but the existing Hamlet has a collar.”