Finalist 2021

Crema

Cara Jordan-Miller / RMIT University / Honours Supervisor - Judith Glover / Glass Fabricator - Maureen Williams

Crema is an external vibrator, designed to look pleasurable, feel pleasurable, and encourage shame-free body exploration.

Crema is a larger-than-typical external vibrator, designed to live next to your bedside table, rather than under it. A flexible, full silicon body, reminiscent of a swirl of cream, Crema can be used a myriad of ways, with 6 different vibration patterns, to help discover what kind of pressure and touch is preferred, for a person with a clitoris.

Crema is supported by a porcelain, USB charging dock, and protected by a hand blown glass cover. The playful, colourful and -easy-to-use design of these components aims to explicitly celebrate shame-free, bodily pleasure.

Design Brief

The current market offerings of vibrators are typically heavily stereotypically gendered and poorly designed. The few that are thoughtfully designed rely on “faux-medicalised” cues to promote suggestions of health and wellness. There is a market gap for a vibrator that is both functionally and aesthetically pleasurable with the design celebrating shame-free sexuality.

Early contextual research established the Design Criteria the outcome is expected to meet:

  • Must appear pleasurable or playful in form.
  • Must facilitate curiosity and positive body exploration.
  • Will not encourage shame.
  • Must facilitate OMGYES’s touch techniques of ‘Consistency’, ‘Orbiting’ and ‘Accenting’.
  • Should be ‘rumbly’ not buzzy (referring to the motor strength).
  • An ease of use in that it doesn’t excessively vibrate the user’s hand
  • Cannot be accidentally turned off during use.
  • Must be body safe.
  • Must be easy to charge and clean.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

Employing HCD, the design criteria was informed by insights from a Sexologist, peer-reviewed medical literature, user reviews of existing products, product teardowns, built personas and journey maps to identify what might inhibit a masturbation practice.

Having identified “what” to design, the iterative design process of “how” began. With function the key to success, first steps included testing motors in uniform silicon shapes to gauge strength preference, and creating exploratory silicon shapes to inform what angles best facilitated the OMGYes techniques. Six tips were independently tested for wear and tear and stimulation preference, all of which established a functional base form.

Aesthetics and materials were then considered, with the charging dock, dust cover and Crema’s body refined in unison. The full set is inspired by sensory dining, a rare discipline that celebrates bodily pleasure.

The simplicity of Crema’s aesthetic form is visually pleasurable yet accessible, validated by anonymous, qualitative user surveys.

Crema’s multi-purpose function, was achieved by 9 iterations - each user tested - designed to encourage body exploration. The tip’s firm point (4mm silicon density) can target the clitoris, useful for both ‘Accenting’ and ‘Consistent’ touches, with the concave surface able to ‘Orbit’. The concave rear can “surround” the labia for broad, indirect pressure or the swirled front offers more intensity.

The wide base (15mm of silicon) is comfortable to hold, established from A/B testing. The large X button, with “long hold” on/off press is opposite the motor to reduce hand cramps, and easy to find without sight, avoiding interrupting the moment. The solid silicon body offers flexibility and easy cleaning, (in shorehardness 25, A/B tested) and exceeds typical abuse load stress tests. Crema stands upright, magnetically snapping fuss-free to the ceramic charger.

The final prototype is a low-fi version of injection and rotational moulding, to replicate a mass manufacture process.

Design Excellence

Crema’s excellence is in its simplicity of employing iterative user testing, expert feedback and proven peer-reviewed medical research at every stage of the design process. This began with early motor testing and extended through to final stages of stress testing the prototype.

The result is a validated design that deeply considers what is physically satisfying for someone with a clitoris and how design can visually embody the core ethos that there is no shame in sexual pleasure.

Shaped like a cream swirl, Crema is designed and tested to facilitate multiple ‘touch’ preferences from the ground-breaking Pleasure Report. With a myriad of ways to enjoy Crema, the form explicitly encourages the user to explore their body and discover what they like, a key design feature for an audience that is often taught to ignore it’s sexuality.

The multiple ways of use, also avoids the risk of shaming a potential user if they do not know yet what they like - a common concern from new consumers. This feature also potentially extends the lifecycle of the product, as it is less likely the user will discard the product, if one way of use isn’t their preference. Additionally, while there is no industry regulation around materiality, Crema is body safe.

By intentionally designing for a ‘playful aesthetic’, Crema differs in rejecting the current market norm of subtly perpetuating stigma and shame through design styling. Instead, anonymous qualitative surveys conducted during the design process ensured the vibrator, charging dock and dust cover cohesively exuded a ‘playful, pleasurable’ quality as well as fulfilling functional criteria.

The considered, sculptural design of Crema, demonstrates it’s proposition that the objects which facilitate our intimate relationships with our bodies, should only exhibit the most positive values.

Design Innovation

The sex toy industry subtly perpetuates stigma around cis-women’s sexuality, with the majority of offerings cartoonish, crude and not user-centered. The more thoughtful few available rely on de-sexualized, faux medical styling cues to promote suggestions of health.

Advertising their “small, discreet” size, they’re often sold with bags to hide the vibrator away, embodying “out of sight, out of mind”. Many have consumer criticisms of ‘weak motors’, and shapes that don’t work for their body.

Crema is innovative by being a vibrator that is both functionally and aesthetically pleasing, with consideration given to whole user experience of the product, including psychological.

The technical function and form, defined by the silicon’s softness, motor strength, overall scale, hand feel and look, was designed in unison. Each element was user tested numerous times, to ensure the final design would be satisfying.

The result is a larger-than-typical vibrator with a rumbly motor, comfortable for most vulva sizes. The tip can directly target the clitoris or surround it and the concave rear and swirled front offer broad pressure of different intensities - features designed specifically to assist with published insights from The Pleasure Report. The motor placement in relation to the button, and overall width, minimizes hand cramps and the button can be found by feel, so the moment isn’t interrupted. Crema stands upright, with a solid silicon body for hygiene and flexibility, and the magnetic charging pins snap to the dock, fuss-free.

Applying luxury styling cues to the charging dock, and dust cover re-positions the sex toy from a product of shame, to one which is considered, and worthy of value and respect.

This deliberate execution of design, explicitly promotes a positive emotional experience, and affirms the value and worthiness of the behavior associated with the product – that is, the user exploring their own body.

Design Impact

The World Health Organization defines sexual pleasure as a human right, and that “sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences.”

The majority of cis-women cannot orgasm without clitoral stimulation, yet research suggests clitoral stimulation as a part of sexual practice is still taboo, translating into a significantly statistical lack of orgasms for cis heterosexual women during partnered intercourse and a lack of solo masturbation practices. Academia around this topic suggests it’s a learned cultural norm, rather than lack of desire or from having ‘more complicated bits’ as is a common myth.

Crema’s impact is a simple intervention, on an intimate scale. While the physiological benefits of sexual activity and orgasm for an individual are many; including aiding in better sleep, and less anxiety, as it promotes the release of endorphins “the brain’s opioid-like neurotransmitters”, the effects of a positive relationship with one’s body is even greater, and more lasting.

Crema’s unapologetic celebration of shame-free pleasure helps to encourage self-agency for an audience whose sexuality is often criticized and rarely supported. At it’s core, it is designed to make someone, simply, feel good about enjoying their own body.

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