Sex by Design
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Tackling sex problems by design?

By Steve Korver Thursday, October 27, 2016 - 14:43
Tackling the problems of sex through design … Designing sex ed … Shaking the tail feather of sex toy innovation … These news flashes and more in this week’s Sex in the Press.

Making sex easier

If the definition of design is finding ways to make life easier, then sex – and it’s assorted ‘problems’ – needs as much design as possible.

In Sex in the Press, we’ve covered many design innovations – from designer condoms to designer babies to designer desire drugs.

And new sex-related design innovations continously enter the marketplace. A couple of recent examples:

Flex tampon is designed to be worn during sex’. Goodbye to messy menstrual sex!

Inventor patents sex robot design that uses men's grunts and groans to tailor its rhythms’. Goodbye to tailoring your rhythm to that of the sex robot!

Sex education in disguise

Design thinking is even being applied to sex education, according to ‘How to talk about sex to teens in Zambia’.

In capital Lusaka, where 30 per cent of girls become pregnant before age 18, a design firm disguised health centres as nail salons in order to teach teen girls about birth control.

In ‘normal’ clinics, girls are often turned away or called a prostitute. “They are a disenfranchised population that have to overcome barriers – cultural, religious, social, and economic – in order to make independent decisions about their reproductive health,” says one of the organisers.

The designers began by deciding to flip the question. Instead of asking, “How do we get girls to reproductive health services?” they asked “How do we get the reproductive health services to the girls?’”

After all, “Zambian teens didn’t think they needed family planning services. They just didn’t want to get pregnant.”

The resulting centre “is nothing fancy: a sparse room with some chairs and tables cluttered with magazines and bottles of nail polish.” Peer educators are on hand to go over the options on how not to get pregnant.

So far, the clinic has seen 11,000 teens, 75 per cent of who are now using contraception.

We wanted to play with this expectation of design and sexuality only being dildos and butt plugs.

Designing intimacy

"We wanted to play with this expectation of design and sexuality only being dildos and butt plugs. The spectrum is so small and narrow, but there's much more we can do when it comes to sexuality and intimacy," says one of the curators in ‘For Play is a sex design exhibition without any dildos’.

"With imagination we really want to make people play more, be more creative. Not only regarding sex objects as sex objects, but looking at your household objects too."

For example, “Fort Folly is a giant bed build up out of more than 200 pillows and advocates creativity and playfulness in the bedroom. The space creates a safe haven for naivety, making mistakes and not taking yourself too seriously.”

I didn't realise how popular animal-tail butt plugs are. That one was a shock.

A sex toy revolution

But the real money is still in dildos and butt plugs.

The sales of “sexual wellness products” is set to grow to $32 billion by 2019, according to ‘Erotic toys are "an incredible opportunity for new designers"’.

“Adult sex toys are in the midst of a design revolution,” says the author of the new book Objects of Desire. “I realised that to a designer, this product type was just another challenge in the studio."

Some of the sex toys she presents in her book are truly futuristic: “The artificially intelligent vibrator called HUM that actually allows the vibrator to analyse the feedback response system of the human body, sensing your climax and responding in sync to draw out the experience."

Others are more pragmatic: “Easy-to-clean devices are also popular, with some featuring silicone surfaces that are completely seamless.”

The book also covers some emerging trends: "I didn't realise how popular animal-tail butt plugs are. That one was a shock," she says.

Now, it’s hard to say whether wearing an animal-tail butt plug will make your life any easier. But it might indeed make your life more playful.

Do you think you can design your way to a better sex life? Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Facebook. If you have any questions, visit our discussion board.

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