The latest generation of sex toys

It is now common knowledge that nothing sells like sex, but if this statements is valid also when speaking about women erotic toys it has still to be proven. The female self erotic scene seems to be mysterious and not so explicit or well accepted by our society. Truth is that lately something has changed, designers have started to revolutionize sex toys in a way that they can now appear less dirty or promiscuous and more common and reassuring for every kind of woman.

While sitting in a bus stopped at the red light, you could easily set your eyes upon one of the new advertising campaign showing a 50×70 cm dildo. This hadn’t happen very often before. In 2001 Coco de Mer, a sex shop in London, commissioned ‘Saatchi & Saatchi’ a campaign to promote their products. But the question the agency put was: “how do sell your product when your product is sex?”. The photographer Budgen suggested the agency to capture the most intimate moment of sexuality by showing photographs of people’s faces while having an orgasm. So their choice was not to show the product at all, but its result instead. If we compare the 2001 campaign with the 2015 ‘Amoralia’ one, the progress taken is clearly visible. The product can now be the protagonist of a poster without arouse any reaction of disgust or disapproval– at least not a visible one to the observation of the passengers on the bus.


‘Saatchi & Saatchi’ and ‘Amoralia’ advertsing campaign

Although society has progressively accepted the idea of female intimacy, we can assume that this change has happened not only because of sociological reasons, but due to a strong intentional or otherwise revolutionary work made by designers. In fact, more and more studios started researching the mysterious word of female sex toys recently. As a proof of this you can just have a look at the ‘Red Dot design Awards’ book and see how many erotic objects have recently won a price. The german ‘OVO design’ studio started designing sex toys in 2012 and since then it has become one of the most rewarded one. What they did was to introduce new parameters for the design and appearance of the products in the sense that, by taking a quick look at their dildo, they immediately appear clean, elegant, almost arty, completely different from the phallic exterior, tempting and attractive.



But how could the rewarded studios design such perfect sex toys? What are their design phases? What about researching, prototyping and testing? It would be very nice if those information could be reachable, unfortunately this is not the case. By being a designer aware of the design process stages we can suppose that researching and testing are the keys of their success, meaning that anatomy and ergonomics researches led them to new shapes, materials and technologies. Those evidences require, though, further examinations:

The new-generation sex toys do not stick to the natural shapes, they are instead innovative, free and sometimes even hardly interpretable as far as they differ from the genitals anatomy. Obviously the products don’t directly relate to the phallic shape but rather explore new options derived from female anatomy and, ergonomically speaking, they are free from previous standards. The research must have led to the discovery that nature can be improved and dildos can be designed considering women’s pleasure and fantasy. The shapes vary as appropriate and what gets the attention is the fact that those shapes need instructions for use, in most cases.




Materials are such relevant point for sex toys because, depending on the porosity of the used material, they can become a dangerous tool which can facilitate cancer ( Therefore designers are really concerned about them and although silicon is pretty popular, other sterile materials such as glass and silver are recently entering the market. The choice of the material is influenced not only by hygiene and safety criteria but also by their intrinsic characteristics, meaning that the flexibility, malleability and adaptability of dildos are very influential. Enjoyability shall be the end result and good compromise between the two features is the real challenge. Here you can find a more detailed analysis of the used material:


Lovehoney_Product/Michael Reynolds and Jeff Zimmerman_Products


The technology applied to sex toys are so many, going from Bluetooth to remote-control ending with Nintendo Wii. Those are the most know but maybe it’s more curious to have a look at LED systems which can help regulating the rhythm of masturbation and wifi and apps which can count how many calories have been burned during the session. Alongside that, the sharing attitude led technologies to become capable of updating and sharing scores of satisfaction online. According to Tina Gong, the kicked out form Apple store creator of the ‘HappyPlayTime’ app, apparently technology goes even faster that ideology and the customers would have to catch up what the industry is testing right now.


Sex_toys_App/ Bondara_Product

The mixtures of those three factors confer the new-generation of sex toys a completely new appearance, removing any dirtiness, vulgarity and perverted intension and rather targeting intimacy, innocent pleasure, natural arousal, tempting and inviting experimentation. The result is sometimes a sculptural object that does not need anymore to be hidden in the closet but rather shown, exposed or simply left even on a shelf. Firstly there is nothing to be ashamed of a rounded white object with some LED light all around it and secondly the probability that people could immediately understand the function of the that tiny little object at the corner of the shelf is not very high. As already mentioned many of the objects are sold only after an accurate explanation of use because the shapes sometimes can’t speak themselves. The ‘affordance’ of the toys is pretty low because designers abandoned stereotypes and cliches for non easy decipherable forms. The change is impressive, isn’t it?

But how can designer set a standard when sex fantasy is as much personal and individual as possible? We facing a hard question again. For sure marketing researches can point group of people’s fantasies and somehow categorize them and probably our knowledge about orgasm and pleasure targets even more people, but technically and anatomically speaking which measurements and standards can be followed?.



It is probably hard to do that and one of the reaction to the problem is the high customizability of the tools. There are dildos of all sorts. Dildos with several vibrating mode, custom-made one (people can give their genitals measures: and even perversion personalized one. About the last one, with no negative meaning, we can quote the transparent and empty vibrator made to be filled up with ashes, like the actual ashes of a dead partner, realized by the Dutch designer Mark Sturkenboom. ’21 Gram’ , referring to the soul weight, is like a memory box to have sex with.


Mark Sturkenboom_21 Gram_Product

Finally almost every woman can find something suitable for her in the market of the new-generation sex toys or, when feeling not represented by any of them, even invent it. If you are not a designer, no worries! There are competitions for new ideas that can be taken part of by amateurs too.


Author: Giulia Fioravera