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Over the years, the entry numbers of "Erotic Toys" for the iF DESIGN AWARD have grown rapidly. A mirror to current trends and shifts in society: The casual and open consumption of these rather delicate products is no longer a taboo nobody talks about. They are, in fact, considered self-care and lifestyle products.
Time to look closer at this trend: For the new design special "Erotic Toys", we talked to jurors that actually selected the winners this year, visited one of Europe`s biggest manufacturers of Erotic Toys - Fun Factory - and show selected winners of the past three years!
In the iF DESIGN AWARD 2020, she was part of the jury group that evaluated all products in the category Beauty / Care, Erotic Toys - Friedrike Faller, Partner & Senior Project Manager at Holscher Design in Copenhagen. Together with Henrik Jeppesen and Mauricio Noronha, they judged and awarded erotic toys. We asked her, what true innovation in erotic toy design actually is and if there are certain difficulties, when judging rather "delicate" products.
In general, the evaluation of the design of erotic toys was based on the same criteria that apply to product design in all other categories. The interesting thing about being a juror is to learn that as an experienced designer you can analyse and ultimately evaluate any product, regardless of whether you have personal experience or a relationship with the product.
There are also very well and poorly designed erotic toys, good and bad workmanship, material composition, etc. In addition, the focus is on ergonomics and the choice of materials for this very intimate and body-hugging product. Hygiene, i.e. ease of cleaning, and the risk of injury also play an important role.
Another innovation, or perhaps more of a trend, is that erotic toys are now normal and a widely recognised product group, so the focus has broadened from pure functionality to a graceful design.
It was positive to see that erotic toys today are no longer a taboo, or have become "socially acceptable", and that there is indeed a wide range of products and designs. They have become design products. Of course, there were also very metaphorical products that were not very subtle. Occasionally you couldn't help but laugh heartily.
The challenge was, of course - which in principle can also apply to many other product groups - to judge the products with a certain distance, because you can't try them out, or because some jurors simply have no experience with the application of this product group. The entire group of judges was rather nervous and astonished after the first round, because we had not expected the large number of erotic toys. They have to meet very high standards in terms of ergonomics and hygiene. One can examine, discuss and also judge the products on many criteria, but one can only estimate the actual functionality to a limited extent.
It was positive to see that erotic toys today are no longer a taboo, or have become "socially acceptable", and that there is indeed a wide range of products and designs. Erotic toys have become design products. Of course, there were also very metaphorical products that were not very subtle. Occasionally you couldn't help but laugh heartily.
We attached great
importance to a sober approach to the evaluation. Of course, men evaluate sex
toys developed for men differently than women do - and vice versa. But
otherwise there are no gender differences - these toys are used by both sexes and
many products were designed for couples.
"Intimate moments are essential for mental, emotional and physical health. For both men and women, the more you learn about yourself and understand about the subject, the better for your own wellbeing. Pleasure toys are without a doubt self care products and should be seen, thought of and designed as such. There is a need of extreme attention regarding non-toxic materials, quality, shape and assembly of these objects. First and foremost, it needs to be as safe and hygienic as possible, to use, clean and store. Pleasure can be achieved in a variety of ways and differently for each person and moment. Versatility of use is important in this matter, but creativity is also in the hands of the user."
Visiting winner designers, manufacturers and companies is a crucial and important part of the work iF does to maintain a relationship with all participants and winners. iF Design's Anja Martina Kirschning and Carmen Wille visited one of Europe's biggest manufacturers of Erotic Toys - Fun Factory - and were delighted by the dedication to design and lifestyle of the company.
In the mid-1990s, university graduates Dirk Bauer and Michael Pahl designed the world's first non-phallic, all-round body-friendly dildo made of flexible, colorful silicone. The prototype of the smiling PADDY PINGUIN was created at the kitchen table - from a handful of plasticine.