Pop Culture

Sex Toys Are Less Embarrassing Now, Thanks to These Designers

Packaged in a brown glass bottle with a black pump top, it might be mistaken for Aesop hand soap, the ubiquitous status cleanser. Or, no: White lettering across the front says “Shine”—hair product maybe? Wrong again. It’s lube, very beautiful lube. Lube designed to look both elevated and everyday, chic and matter-of-fact. You could leave it out when your parents drop by and, hypothetically, not die of embarrassment.

Maude, the maker of this particular lube, is part of a wave of young brands whose founders decided sex products were overdue for a design overhaul and then set about offering their own alternatives. The issue isn’t a lack of products, says Maude CEO Eva Goicochea. The problem, she says, is that many of them fail to align with consumers’ attitudes toward sex and aesthetic sensibilities. The incumbents—think glittery, leopard print vibrators—have been marketed in a way that feels too Vegas, too college, too evocative of what Goicochea calls “Friday night bad decision sex.”

She wanted to make products that felt inclusive of all bodies and ages. Her goal was to convey comfort, familiarity, and friendliness, with a focus on wellness—not because the term is trendy, though it is, but because sex very much affects (and is affected by) a person’s physical and mental health.

Launched in 2018, Maude sells oatmeal-colored packages of natural latex condoms, massage oil candles “with warming notes of amber, cedar leaf, lemongrass, tonka bean and medjool date,” and an unassuming, off-white vibrator that wouldn’t look out of place in a Muji store. (Maude only makes one style of vibrator, to help overwhelmed customers cut through the noise of the crowded sex toy market.) Maude’s branding is classic direct-to-consumer startup minimalism: Pared-back and clean, humanized by fun little doodles, promising no-brainer solutions to the contemporary problem of consumer overload. It makes sex, a very complicated thing, seem remarkably easy to navigate.

Maude EssentialsCourtesy of Maude
Maude’s massage oil candleCourtesy of Maude

Buying products in service of your sex life can be awkward and intimidating, and for companies like Maude, using design and branding that don’t scream S-E-X sex—branding that could be used to sell Allbirds sneakers or a Casper mattress—is one way of helping nervous shoppers feel more comfortable. When it comes to sex products, no one style is objectively better than the rest. But design always sends a message. A stainless steel butt plug with a giant aquamarine gem at the end (available on Ebay) might make someone feel like they’re starring in an X-rated version of Titanic, where a more understated product from the men’s health startup Hims might say: Sex is a normal thing that you do with your body. Here’s some unassuming premature ejaculation spray to help you along the way.

The bodycare brand Nécessaire has reframed lube as an essential element of a person’s personal care arsenal—one that deserves to look every bit as sophisticated as the holy grail grooming products we proudly display on our vanities and bathroom counters. The brand only sells five products, each with a name suggesting they’re the be-all and end-all of their categories: The Body Wash, The Body Lotion, The Body Exfoliator, The Body Serum, The Sex Gel. Nécessaire’s lubricant comes in the same elegant, black-white-and-neutral packaging style as the rest of its products. It seems silly to stuff it in a Ziploc bag and hide it in a drawer while other, homelier products live out in the open.

“Having a sex gel that you’re not embarrassed of, as a concept, felt kind of new. We’re all used to having tubes and pumps and bottles of things that we have to quickly store away when we have guests,” says Nécessaire co-founder Nick Axelrod. “Creating something that you wouldn’t have to hide and that you could be aesthetically okay with in your home was important to us.” (In the age of user-generated marketing on Instagram, it also wouldn’t be very good for business if customers felt compelled to conceal their purchases from the world.)

NécessaireCourtesy of Nécessaire
NécessaireCourtesy of Nécessaire

Shoppers like Rowan Lloyd, 25, have welcomed the shift toward simpler design. Lloyd grew up in a small town where going into the local sex shop to giggle and gawk was a semi-scandalous rite of passage for 18-year-olds. Her early impressions of sex toys were based on products like the Rabbit vibrator, made famous by Sex and the City, which she found “terrifying,” with its intense colors and suggestive shape.

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

A ‘Yellowstone’ coffee battle is brewing, drama percolating off-screen
Lupita Nyong’o Seen With Joshua Jackson After Announcing Split from Boyfriend
When Will Barbie Be Available to Stream?
Redefine Entertainment Promotes Lubna Hanna To Manager
Manufacturing Problems with School and Library Books to Cash in on Solutions: Book Censorship News, December 8, 2023

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *