I am an industrial designer and co-founder of CRAVE, a modern sex toy company based in San Francisco. Designing sex toys was not something I aspired to do when I graduated with an I.D. degree from Georgia Tech. I didn’t even realize this sort of role existed.
When people find out what I do, they immediately want to know how I became a sex toy designer. Did I fall on some seriously hard times and start designing sex toys as a last resort? No.
The idea came to me when I went shopping for a sex toy in 2007. I was completely overwhelmed by a wall of brightly colored rabbit vibes and dildos in just about every tacky color imaginable. I asked the clerk what was the best toy they had, and she pointed to an equally hideous monstrosity but with a much higher price tag. I couldn’t believe that these were my only options. At that point in my career, I had been an industrial designer working for major consumer product companies for a good number of years, using design to improve the experience of using everything from hairbrushes to bicycles. So I thought perhaps I could make a difference here. I started a company designing luxury sex toys called INCOQNITO and it was later acquired by CRAVE.
Why can’t a sex toy be as sophisticated and well-considered as any other modern product in your life?
Female sexuality and the pursuit of pleasure has been taboo and stigmatized for so long in our culture that typically people do not consider this to be a legitimate industry. I can assure you it is — a multi-billion dollar industry in fact. However, we have a lot of cultural baggage we need to shed before this industry is viewed as seriously as other consumer product design, and how can that happen if the ultimate sex toy is a two-pronged phallic combo with a neon colored rabbit? How can we move forward when the vast majority of the products that support intimacy are objects that you would be ashamed to be seen with?
Luckily, we have been experiencing a cultural shift, especially in the last few years, where people are becoming more open about pursuing the pleasure they want. The idea of sexual pleasure is beginning to find its rightful place in women’s health in mainstream media, but more importantly it is simply being recognized as a goddamn birthright. Finally! After all, who justifies male masturbation as good for their health? Admittedly, I’m no literary scholar nor have I read the wildly popular 50 Shades of Gray, but I’d venture to say that it succeeded not as profound contribution to literature but rather as a reflection of our society becoming more curious sexually and wanting to explore.
As a designer, I love what I do. I have never been more fulfilled in my work. It is my sincerest hope to continue to help remove shame and stigma from female pleasure. I guess it’s sort of my version of planting a tree. Since May is Masturbation month — go ahead, do what Good Vibrations suggests: “give yourself a hand!”
Ti Chang is Co-founder and VP Design at Crave. Photo credit: Ti Chang