Skip to main content
Design Products (MA)

Wenjia Gao

Everyday's hidden affordance
Everyday's hidden affordance: discover potential uses of objects that may not be easily noticeable or expected, but are still present.
Are cat trees necessary for cats?
If an item has more than one function, can we blur its definition? Do we still need to invent a product for each function? Are cat trees necessary for cats? In fact, ultimately, your cat doesn't need a tree to live their best life. What they do require, however, are opportunities to act on their feline instincts, such as scratching and climbing.
early models
I found there may be a potential for adjusting the existing furniture slightly to make the whole space a shared space for cats and humans. Observe the existing furniture, such as cabinets and shelves, which provide a suitable height for cats to patrol the territory. Cats, however, have difficulty getting there directly from the ground, especially elder cats and kittens. Therefore, I hope to design a furniture that doubles as a cat tower.
early model
full scale model testing size and climbing route
form iteration
form iteration
final form
final form and size
exploded view
exploded view The product is designed to be detachable and fixed by wood peg.
peg joinery
product in use
The Purrfect Home is a flat pack multifunctional furniture that combines cat towers with shelves that benefits both the owner and the cat. The goal is to meet the need for cats to rest at high places while reducing the problem of single-purpose and space-consuming cat towers. The furniture itself can be a shelf that holds the cat owner’s personal items, like books, plants or bags. The shelves are arranged in a way that the cat can find a pathway and reach the top.
product in use
product in use
forms more vertical space
Placing next to other furniture transforms the entire space into a vertical playground for cats to explore and play in.





In today's modern world, a multitude of products cater to our diverse needs. However, the question arises: is it truly necessary to create a new product for every specific function? Taking inspiration from Richard Wentworth's Making Do and Getting By, people often ingeniously repurpose everyday items for uncommon or unintended uses. For instance, using the back of a chair as a makeshift coat rack by hanging clothes on it.

If we extend this perspective to a completely different species, such as cats, we discover that despite sharing the same physical environment, cats perceive their surroundings quite differently. While cat trees were specifically designed as furniture for cats, these furry companions are not confined to them and frequently explore other areas of their human's home. Furthermore, cat trees occupy a significant amount of space and serve a singular purpose.

In light of this, I envision a project centered around creating a shared living space for both humans and cats. The objective is to design furniture that can be utilized by both species, focusing specifically on accommodating pet cats and their owners who have limited space. This project seeks to maximize the practical utilization of objects, fostering a harmonious living environment where both humans and pet cats can find joy and contentment.

Wenjia Gao

As a designer, I explore the interaction between people, objects, and spaces. I aspire to challenge conventional perspectives and foster a deeper connection between people and their physical environment. By encouraging individuals to reinterpret and redefine their surroundings, I hope to ignite a sense of exploration and creativity. Through my work, I strive to craft objects that enhance experiences and contribute to a more sustainable and inspiring world.