Pets and Demographic Decline; Two Factors That Redefine “Home”

Demographic decline is a reality.  Statistics demonstrate that the number of births worldwide has been declining each year since the last decades of the last century. Factors contributing to this statistic are manifold, but are primarily politically-, socially-, culturally- and health-related.  This creates new challenges not only for a nation’s economy and its retirement system, which is dependent upon the contribution of a younger working class, but also for the world of design and interior decoration, which must now go beyond designing living spaces based on a traditional family model that only used to include a father, a mother, and their children, in order to understand the new intimate relationship circles that now coexist in these spaces.

Let’s look at the numbers.

According to the article The Global Fertility Crisis published in the National Review, the fertility rate in South Korea was 5.04 live births per woman in 1963; today it is at 2.43. On the other hand, the United States had a fertility rate of 2.12 children per woman in 2006, which not stands at 1.72 children.

The Analysis of Fertility Reduction in Colombia: Model of Determining Factors, published by the National University, released that in 1965 the fertility rate in the country was 6.18 children per woman; in 2010 it became 2.45 children. The BBC published an article based on a study by the British medical magazine The Lancet, which showed that in several Latin American countries, including Colombia, this rate ranged from 1.7 to 2.5 children per woman in the year 2018.  “During the first quarter of 2020, births in Colombia decreased 2.6% compared to the same period in 2019.” National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE).

It is highly probable that the fertility figures will continue to decrease, because the annual Family Thermometer Study conducted by the Universidad de la Sabana established four cultural reasons that substantiate this fact, of which two pertain to education an a woman´s role in today´s workplace and other two are religious in character. Another huge factor contributing to the decrease in family size is the increase in life expectancy.  For many young people, marriage is becoming something increasingly more to push off until later in life.  Because humans are living longer, they have more time to explore and experiment before deciding to establish a permanent bond with another person at an older age.

Redefining Design and Decoration

The crucial decision to not have any children (or a maximum of two) is no longer a trend and has indeed now become the new normal.  You just have to look at the numbers.  Less than 70 years ago the average Colombian family had as many as six children; however, that reality has now been redefined and the number has reduced significantly. Here is where the design and decoration of the living spaces plays an important role, because if normality is redefined, the same happens with the spaces’ usability based on their owners’ priorities.

Pets have become more than ever a part of the postmodernist family model, and the numbers support this claim.  According to Brandstrat, six out of every 10 Colombian homes have pets.  A study by the University of Rosario revealed that in our country, of the people in the 18- to 32-year-old age range, 49% have pets and only 36% have children. Finally, the World Animal Protection organization found that 95% of people who have dogs consider them to be just one more member of the family. (By El Espectador Journal)

In 2018, the pet industry sold around $15 billion worth of product in Latin America.  Its sales projection for 2023 represents a growth of 12.5% in this region, and Colombia would represent 9.1% of the total figure, according to Pet Industry.

This reality gives rise to an unlimited number of necessities for which the interior design and decoration industries must provide a solution. In this article, I wanted to share with you a series of suggestions that I felt worth considering when working on a new home decorating project.   The criteria that I considered in designing a space for these new relationships were practicality, durability, cleanliness, and aesthetics for those surfaces with which pets tend to have the most contact, such as floors, walls, and furniture upholstery.

Floors

Porcelain is undoubtedly one of the most resistant and appropriate material for spaces where pets live.  Its composition allows water-based products such as detergents, disinfectants, and sealants to be used in the cleaning process. It is a superior material that comes in a wide variety of colors and textures, in both glossy and matte finishes.

On the other hand, according to the advice of Jhonatan Arango, lead salesperson of Decorceramica, vinyl floors are also an excellent alternative; They are made from polyvinylchloride, and its plastic alloy provides high resistance to humidity. As a continuous covering, it contributes to the cleanliness of the spaces, and it costs less than other flooring options.

Micro-cement is another material whose characteristics and composition make it suitable for use on floors and walls in spaces where pets live. In a conversation with Enrique Bonilla, who works for En Construcción y Arquitectura, he stressed that his product, in addition to generating only 0.15% CO2, is easy and quick to apply, which makes it ideal for clean installations, which generate little waste. EcoCementi is a continuous coating that is ideal in terms of cleaning and disinfection; furthermore, one of its most attractive features is its flexibility of finishes, which can be customized in both texture and color.

Walls

The paint universe provides a wide variety of technological advances that not only guarantee durability but also contribute to the sanitation of spaces.  Such is the case with the Bioprotec antibacterial paint by Recol Paints, whose composition includes fungicidal technology with a resistance of up to 400 abrasion cycles.

Water-based enamels are another durable product that allow for several cleaning cycles. Aquamel (also from Pinturas Recol) is a substrate whose resistance equals oil-based enamels. According to Jorge Plazas, Business Unit Manager, the smell of this product disappears a few hours after application, a feature that allows spaces to be able to be put into active use more quickly. Plazas also suggests decorative coverings, as these provide durability, resistance, and have different finishing options.

Furniture Upholstery

Furniture is usually the object we worry about the most when we have pets.  For this reason, it is important to choose resistant fabrics that facilitate easy cleaning and disinfection, repel water, and, if possible, utilize technology that will prevent them from being destroyed by a pet’s claws.  Microsuede, Versailles, French Velvet and Rio are some of Lafayette Deco’s upholstery fabrics that use these technologies.

In closing, today’s designers need to keep in mind that homes are not only inhabited by humans.  Remembering this will allow us to provide comprehensive solutions that facilitate a more pleasing coexistence within postmodern families.

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