When we came across industrial designer Ti Chang's line of discreet pleasure devices at the Adult Entertainment Expo recently, the assortment of sleekly-designed sex toys far outshone the typically ill-conceived gadgets saturating the market. The second surprise came when we realized that each accessory doubles as a wearable fashion piece, cleverly disguising its true purpose. Some stand outs in her current nine-piece collection include the Droplet Necklace, with silver pendants that also happen to be small vibrators; the seductive Blade Necklace features a dull-edged knife sculpted from hand-cut glass that can be used to stimulate your erogenous zones; the Lash Belt conveniently turns from holding your pants up to keeping your loved one in order; the Leather Handcuffs are a great looking leather double cuff bracelet set that can be used for light restraint.
We followed up with Chang to learn more about the collection and her novel take on the toy industry.
What was your path to starting your own company?
I received my bachelors from Georgia Tech in Industrial Design. I started my career designing personal care products for women, mainly hair brushes. I then went on to design bicycle accessories for Trek Bicycle. I decided to go back to school for my Masters at the Royal College of Art in London. Afterward, I worked as a design consultant on various projects from branding, furniture, to home accessories. During this period I moved around a lot—London, China, New York, and Boston. It was great to experience vastly different projects and cultures which helped me to become a more well-rounded designer. I gained experience working on all aspects of bringing a company/product to life from brand conception to design and production. This gave me the confidence and tools to enable me to eventually start my own company.
How did you evolve to designing intimate accessories?
It was a combination of things. The landscape of the American economy going down hill, so it was very hard to find projects or work. Even if there was work, it wasn't particularly exciting or well-paid. Also because I care deeply about what I do—I have a hard time working on design projects I am not passionate about. It's both my blessing and my curse. I made the leap into intimate accessories because it was an area that both fascinated me and to which I felt I had something to contribute.
Considering the interest in intimate accessories, why are so few brands design-oriented in the space?
Culturally the topic of sexuality is taboo. There is a strong cultural stigma with this industry where intimate accessories, adult novelty, toys and porn all get lumped together. So people tend to shy away from this topic. It's not exactly dinner table conversation and generally people aren't talking about it openly. The attitude around sexuality is very much an artifact of history—not the nature of sexuality. So people are projecting that historical view and being put off by it instead of embracing it for what it is. I think this stigma is what keeps people from thinking about this space and endeavoring to innovate and make products better.
How did you arrive at the concept of sex toys doubling as jewelry?
I was always disappointed at the lack of aesthetically elegant toys in this space. Why is everything hot pink, purple and rubbery? I wanted to bring a sense of timelessness like a piece of jewelry, something dignifying and beautiful, an object that you would want to keep for a long time. I don't think it's necessary to chose just one aspect of the function, why not have it all?
Where does your inspiration come from?
I'm inspired by the material world around me. As an industrial designer, I am drawn to problem solving through design of objects, the tactile experience and the desire to make things a little better.
Tell us about some of your products, like the Handcuff bracelets and Lash Belt.
I think it is interesting that many of the products enable experiences outside the bedroom, and I think I will leave it at that. The leather cuffs and the Lash belt are both fun. The cuffs are more understated, whereas the Lash belt is a stronger fashion/lifestyle statement.
I'm sure you have some great stories to tell, any you want to share?
Working in this industry, there are some great moments. One that comes to mind is the fact that my coworkers and I can go sex toy shopping and it's totally normal, whereas in other companies, it would probably be an HR violation of some sort.
Any advice for those that want to get something for their partner?
If you are considering a gift from the Incoqnito collection, try to understand the taste and style of your partner. For the more adventurous couples, I would recommend the Razor for sensation play. For the those who like jewelry and edgy accessories, the Leather cuffs and the Droplet necklace are classic accessories that have a sexy twist that you both can enjoy!