When I visited the Dutch Design Week last year you could not deny it, there was an undeniable presence of sex objects, concepts and design thoughts about sexuality (or the lack of it ) in the air.
The most noticed was the work by Eindhoven Design Academy graduate Baas Buijs.
He got international attention with his remarkable men sex toy Satyr ( think a bright pink torso kind of ‘blob’ that can be mounted like a vaulting horse, found in a gym).
Buijs also created a beautiful hand-blown glass vibrator, that can be winded up like a clock.
(the object is so well made that it could be left on your coffee table, without disturbing any visitor.)
Baas wanted to bring sex toys out of the dark and create a new feeling around it.
He claims lust is a natural feeling like hunger or thirst and objects people use to indulge should not be hidden away.
As always with the students of the Design Academy, the project is presented as a commercial brand, with striking storytelling pictures, without being vulgar.
And there is more.
Take the Iroha line by Tenga that features fleshy orbs made of silicone to be used a vibrator or massager. Or the Vesper, a gorgeous piece of jewelry and a strong slim vibrator. Designed for beautiful experiences in public and in private, the Vesper is a playful and sophisticated way to take your pleasure. USB rechargeable, water resistant, splash proof and whisper quiet. And it gets even better: the Vesper can be personalized with a special message to yourself or a loved one. Sweet or naughty, but no emoji or foreign characters!
Another beautiful object was the Vulsa Versa mirror, designed by Micele Degen, a graduate student at the Design Academy of Eindhoven, at the exhibit in Milan during The Salone di Mobile this year. This object was created to eradicate taboos surrounding intimate female areas. Questioning why women still feel ashamed of their genitals, Degan designed a curved hand-held mirror that would encourage them to better-engage with their own body. Not really a sex toy in the explicit way, but an object for woman to get to know themselves better. A sign of the time, where woman take more and more the initiative to discover their own bodies and claim their sexuality back.
Very recently a book was published about the topic.
‘Objects of desire’ by writer Rita Catinella Orrell and designer Jason Scuderi, has a foreword by Sarah Forbes (curator from the New York City’s Museum of Sex) and sexologist Carol Queen wrote an introduction about the history and evolution of sex toys.
This ‘design revolution of ‘adult toys’ is a good thing. Sex toys become less tacky and more artistic sophisticated. Sex toy designers are winning major industrial awards. We have changed, our taste is different and technology makes more possible.
And as a cherry on the cake, sales projections by 2019 predict a growth to $32 billion in the sexual wellness products.
No wonder designers see this a a huge opportunity.