Industrial Design / Engineering

Users can now bathe their dog virtually anywhere with the mess-free BARKBATH portable bathing device. We helped develop the system’s convenient one-step wash/dry process that vacuums up a combined water/shampoo solution in a natural “petting” motion.

The unique nozzle gets beneath the animal’s fur, lifting away dirt and separating the dirty water into a clear tank where effectiveness is easily observed. The result? A cleaner, happier dog and drier owner—all while consuming dramatically less water (a 40-oz. supply of clean water will completely wash an 80-lb. dog, versus a traditional bath that can use up to 19 gallons).

Prototypes were demoed at Bissell’s Pet Spot (a four-stall kennel inside the corporate building allowing staff to bring their pets to work). Not only did the experience underscore the company’s commitment to employees and their Pet Foundation, it also encouraged owners to try new pet products. Staff members would eagerly volunteer their dogs for trials, which meant we got to meet a lot of great dogs and owners. Some of the dogs are already the stuff of legend, namely the chief chemist’s 180-lb Alaskan Malamute, Chief.

To deliver a prototype quickly, we used as many current parts as possible, opting to pair an available venturi (which can mix water and shampoo from a reservoir) with the existing trigger shut-off valve. These parts were never intended to function together, so packaging them to work in the smallest space possible was challenging. We started with a rough mock-up to engineer the hydraulic circuit. After the circuit was proven successful, we began the iterative process of developing an attractive housing for everything.

What makes us most proud is how we advanced the concept past the initial expectation, delivering a solution that satisfied their specifications in an integrated, elegant format that was not originally considered.

Bark Bath Portable Dog Bath received a Good Design Award from Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and was also a finalist in the 2017 International Design Excellence Awards.

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