Pleasure Principle ! Designer Ti Chang of Crave Creates Exquisite Sex Toys you Can Wear as a Jewelry…
Pop Quiz. Would you wear a sex toy around your neck? What if it were to double as an incognito piece of wearable art? Whether your penchant lies on the side of jewels or sex, one thing is for sure: jewelry design world, get ready to meet the erotic industry.
Industrial designer Ti Chang of Crave has created a jewelry line that doubles as discreet sex toys ranging from standard vibrators to vibrating nipple clamps. With her revolutionary creations, Ti Chang of Crave is “incorporating new technology and materials in a relevant way that have not been used before in the adult industry.” Classically trained in industrial design and with a Masters in Design Products from the Royal College of Art, Ti disguises the true intent of her jewelry-meets-vibrator creations she dubs "foreplay jewelry" under a sleek aesthetic in a palette of silver, 24K gold, and rose-gold to create a stunning pieces of wearable art that borders on the phallically sexy. So....what do you Crave?
"Vesper is a vibrator / necklace that openly embraces pleasure. It’s a nod towards the fact that our culture did not always recognize women’s sexual desires. For most of history (nearly 2000 years to be more exact) women’s sexuality was viewed as a disease." Ti Chang - CRAVE
ABOUT TI CHANG - CRAVE
CM: Well, hello Ti ! Ever since my girlfriend received her Vesper… I haven’t heard from her! Should I be worried ?!
T: No, not at all, a vibrator will never replace a warm embrace or a good cuddle.
CM: What is your background, what did you study
T: I’m a classically trained industrial designer - a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from Georgia Institute of Technology and an MA in Design Products from Royal College of Art.
CM: What prompted you to design erotic products? And why?
T: Personally I was quite disappointed in the lack of quality selections back then in 2009. The products looked like such a joke, the vast majority lacked any serious product design consideration so I decided to give it a go myself to see if I can make a difference.
CM: How did you get the inspiration to design Duet and Vesper?
T: The Duet was created because we wanted to eliminate the hassle of batteries and charging of these products. We wanted to use USB because it has become a convenient and ubiquitous platform for charging. Later, the unique tips were designed to deliver effective clitoral stimulation.
With Vesper, it was about the interplay of our public and private selves. We wanted a product that was both a strong vibrator and a beautiful piece of jewelry.
CM: Vesper, pleasure principle?
T: Vesper is a vibrator / necklace that openly embraces pleasure. It’s a nod towards the fact that our culture did not always recognize women’s sexual desires. For most of history (nearly 2000 years to be more exact) women’s sexuality was viewed as a disease. The fact that, today, we can speak of vibrators in regard to a woman’s pleasure is a profound shift in our societal attitude. I wanted to create a piece that enables people to be more open about their pleasure in a fashionable way.
CM: Your range of products is eclectic, electric and... vibrant too. From the Droplet Necklace to the Duet...what’s your stamina like at the moment?
T: Come again?
CM: If I could stick a music piece to your brand and soft products, I would go for ‘Smooth operator’, Sade. Good choice?
CM: Which artists / designers inspire you?
T: Konstantin Grcic is my latest inspiration - the way he understands process & material and pushes it to a new aesthetic, Naoto Fukasawa for his poetic narrative in his design of products, and lastly I have always adored the late Tobias Wong as an artist and designer - his cheeky works are so flawlessly executed that it truly blurs the line between product and art.
CM: Where do you look for inspiration?
T: I’m a problem solver at heart so I try to create products that have a reason to exist. I am inspired by fashion (colours, textures, attitude) as it reflects our mood culturally in an of-the-moment way. Also, incorporating new technology and materials in a relevant way that have not been used before in the adult industry.
“If anything deserves good design it’s the things we take to bed with us. There is no reason why a vibrator shouldn’t be as well designed and as sophisticated as any modern product in your life.” Ti Chang -CRAVE
CM: How did you come up with the idea of a sex toy you can wear as a jewelry?
T: I believed sex toys could be much more elegant, dignifying, and desirable than what was available on the market at that time. I decided to marry the functionality of a sex toy with a category such as jewelry because it was a way to elevate the idea of a sex toy into something much more desirable.
CM: How do you start you design process: notebooks, pics, sketches..? Do you have a work method you follow in the creative process?
T: I always start with a sketch; my sketches begin as doodles in my sketchbook to quickly capture ideas. As the product’s technology becomes more defined I can then use those constraints to really design the details of the object. I use sketch overlay and photoshop with a wacom to produce more developed concepts. Ultimately I model all my ideas in CAD which is then given to the engineers to refine. Then, through user research and prototyping we have more iterations to go before we decided whether we should bring this concept to production.
CM: Do you have a team involved in your creative process?
T: We have a small team and a very collaborative process. There is no engineer vs designer mentality - we support each other fully through candid discussions because all our decisions on all details from materials to size of the battery, affect everything. We check our egos at the door, which enables us to really discuss all the issues at hand openly so we can get to the best product and experience outcome.
CM: What materials do you use in your work?
T: For all our products we only work with body-safe materials. We use only quality metals and silicone in our products. We often work with die-cast metals and 316 stainless steel for both the tactile quality and for product longevity. We also use electroplating using precious metal such as gold.
CM: What creates a productive work environment for you?
T: For designing, I put on my headphones with the Pandora station on 90’s pop music - or R&B. I’m serious. It just puts me in a happy place, like being in a mall with my parent’s credit card or something. Oh, and I need to have a white desk in a minimal environment. I’m kind of a diva about that. I need my desk to be white.
CM: Do you ever encounter creative blocks?
T: Yes, when I do, I just need to step away from it and come back to it later and it usually sorts itself out.
CM: What’s the ethos of your company, Crave?
T: That if anything deserves good design it’s the things we take to bed with us. There is no reason why a vibrator shouldn’t be as well designed and as sophisticated as any modern product in your life.
CM: Is there an emotional element to design?
T: Absolutely. When everything comes together at the end there must be the emotional element of desire when you see the object. Without it, it’s just a thing. You must want it like you want a new pair of shoes or the latest gadget.
CM: Does sustainability affect your work?
T: Sustainability should affect all designers. We strive to have as little environmental impact as possible and we try to be thoughtful about our product, including the packaging. We think about the carbon footprint of what we do, in how we manufacture and where we manufacture our products. We strive to create products for longevity in our material selection and design. This ensures that we are creating products which we can cherish for a very long time, versus something that will quickly end up in a landfill.
CM: Do you ever feel your work is truly complete?
T: I’m a designer, of course not.
CM: When not working in your office, where do you like to hang out?
T: I’m a homebody, nothing exciting here. I honestly love to stay home and cook up a good meal and experiment with some new recipes. I love inviting my friends over for dinner and playing a good game of Cards Against Humanity.
CM: Are you a member of any professional or private members clubs?
T: I’m a part of IDSA, and I recently l just became the vice chair of the Women in Design section of IDSA.
CM: Do you ever collaborate with other artists / designers? Whom might you aspire to collaborate with?
T: I just completed a collaboration with my good friend of mine who is an industrial designer. I can’t disclose any details just yet, but it will be released as a special edition for the holidays.
I aspire to work someone like Betony Vernon - who is a legendary jewelry designer who introduced the idea of fine erotic jewelry. Nika Zupanc is another designer who I admire. I would also love to collaborate with other creatives who may or may not be designers. I love to work with people who are not afraid to be themselves - Sophia Amoruso is one name that comes to mind. She created the cult fashion empire Nasty Gal.
CM: What approach do you take for marketing your work?
T: I believe in “earned” media vs “paid” media. I think if you are doing interesting work, the world will pay attention. We do not have a massive marketing budget to flood your browser or facebook with paid advertising, so all the media we’ve gotten has been because someone genuinely found what we are doing press-worthy.
CM: Your favourite and most sexy place on earth?
T: Being in a bathtub, over-looking gorgeous scenery in a secluded place or in a fancy hotel. If I’m not in a fancy hotel, a hot bath with some candles will do.
CM: Advice for working in your creative industry?
T: Just go for it! We need more designers in this industry.
CM: What are you currently working on?
T: Sorry, its top secret. Thanks for asking.
CM: What’s next for you?
T: I can see myself working on this for a while, however, I’d love to work on some furniture perhaps in my spare time. At the risk of sounding morbid, I’m also fascinated with the experience of death, not because I am a dark person with some death obsession, but from a very practical point of view, I hate the whole idea of picking some awful and over-priced traditional coffin or being simply cremated. I think there has to be a much better way to celebrate a life and to be remembered.
Photography © Ti Chang - CRAVE 2014. All rights reserved. A Creative Mapping interview.