Dogs Help Us See Our Creative Work in a New Light

Pets inspire creativity every day at Purina. Just look at Industrial Designer Kisun and her dog Munji.

The inspiration Kisun finds in the dogs in her life and at her job helps her design new products for pets.

Behind The Be Happy® Bag

Drawings of Munji happen often when Kisun is around.

A new source of inspiration came into the office when Kisun was working on the design vision and brand story for a new dog and cat value brand, Be Happy®. That inspiration on four legs was her colleague Bethanie’s dog, Grizzly. A little black Morkie Poo, the dog’s sense of mischief and adventure, not to mention his big eyes, influenced the way Kisun illustrated the Be Happy dog.

Her co-worker started noticing how much Kisun enjoyed Grizzly, and offered to help her adopt Grizzly’s brother, who had just been born into a new litter.

With that, Kisun adopted her first dog. She named him Munji upon her sister’s suggestion. “Munji” is Korean for “black blob,” which was how the hummingbird-fast Munji showed up in photos.

Inspiring Empathy

Now, Munji helps Kisun see her creative work in a new light. At Purina, Kisun works in Packaging and Design, a human-centered discipline that takes intangible insights and designs them into tangible and commercially viable consumer experiences. Kisun collaborates with a design strategist in the snack category, working to turn transactional treat-giving into stronger bonding moments that make both pets and owners happy.

Kisun’s department is in an open, sunny corner of the Purina campus, where collaboration is fostered by group spaces and creative materials meant to kickstart new thinking.

Kisun and other Purina staffers sometimes hang out in 2T, an innovative gathering space full of stimulating materials that encourages employees to think outside the box.

“Our job is to have empathy for consumers, so we can create something meaningful for them,” she explains. Whether that ends up being a type of packaging that creates a shared experience between a dog and his owner or a brand new way to provide food to cats, Industrial Designers are responsible for many ideas that go outside the box.

Being able to bring Munji to work with her every day doesn’t just relieve Kisun of the anxiety of worrying about what he’s doing while she’s gone. Interacting with her dog at the office helps her better understand dogs in general, as well as the needs of every day pet owners. That helps inform the new product opportunities conceived by Kisun and her fellow industrial designers.

Continuing Inspiration

Taped onto the window next to Kisun’s desk is a drawing she made of Munji.

Munji’s already inspired plenty of drawings and doodles from Kisun, and we’re excited to see what artwork and products he’ll inspire next.

Kisun’s Tips for Pet-Inspired Creation

Capture Your Pet’s Quirks

1. Spend some time observing how your pet behaves to capture their quirkiness. Chances are, they do something weird and ridiculous that makes them unique and different from other pets. Try catching them in that moment by snapping a photo or by drawing a simple doodle.

Keep Practicing

2. Try taking a break after dinner by spending some time doodling in a notebook, on a napkin – whatever. That will help you flex your creative muscle.

Make Your Pet a Gift

3. You don’t have to create art that depicts your pet – you can also create something to be a gift for your pet, whether it’s a fancy collar for your cat or a bow tie for your dog. Or you can start by creating your pet a birthday gift!