The most pleasurable design

Have you ever wondered how sex toys are designed? Aside from the obvious phallic-inspired shape of some, many vibrators, dildos and other toys on the market today have unique designs that stray far from the look of the human anatomy. Although it may seem like a simple process - target the zones which provide the most pleasure - the design process that modern sex toys go through is much more innovative than it has been previously.

Judith Glover is the Founder of and Industrial Designer for Goldfrau, a company that specializes in designing sex toys. She said the sex toy design process is being modernized. "There is a difference between what sex toy design should be if a proper industrial design process is followed and what it generally is and has been the last 40 years or so." Glover said she aims to provide customers with products that reflect "a contemporary understanding of sexuality and lifestyles, not the historical view of pornography the adult industry generally uses"

Glover cited numerous factors that have contributed to the way sex toys have traditionally been designed. "The taboo nature of the adult industry has created problems for innovation and entrepreneurship that other industries get because sex toys are caught in wider morality anti-porn battles."

So what is being done to modernize and improve the design of sex toys? "There is a new generation of sex toy companies that have appeared in the last decade," Glover said. "We have all been trained to take a user-centred approach to designing products — that is, objectively understand your potential consumer's needs and look for innovation — and we have been trained in designing safe material and production standards into products."

The look of toys is also in dire need of a change, according to Glover. "The literal interpretation of genitalia into product language — either the dick-and-balls dildo or the porn-star vagina — reinforces the public perception of taboo." This is a big problem for modern designers, who realize that not every consumer is comfortable buying something that looks like a penis or vagina. This all leads to a different approach to modern sex toy design, Glover explained. "The new generation design companies are capturing the growth in the market by moving distinctly away from pornography symbols."

So it would seem that the process no longer involves simply getting a model, making a mold and then presto, there's your toy. It now involves finding out exactly what men and women want — do they want something that looks like a penis or vagina, or do they instead want something that looks more stylish and visually pleasing — and taking that feedback into account when crafting the newest product.

We are undoubtedly moving into a new era of sex toy designs, and with assistance and some gentle nudging from Glover and her peers, the industry will complete its move into the modern world of sex.