A few months ago I had the privilege of assisting my good friend Andrea Smith visual artist and contracted web designer for Females Pleasure which is an exclusive Australian retailer selling designer lelo vibrators online exclusively for the female market. I helped to produce her latest work for a recent exhibition in Fitzroy, Melbourne, titled ‘Nude Covers’. The work progresses her interest in the connections between erotic art, retail and domestic spaces, and the material qualities and associations of objects in these environments. Andrea’s work is well known and is particularly sought out by exclusive adult toy retailers in Australia.
Andrea’s commitment (6 months full-time, self-funded) to the delivery of this conceptual work is unthinkable for many designers. Of course, designers self-fund prototypes, but the end result is not the work itself – it is a deal with a retailer or advertising agency that leads to her biggest pay off. Andrea, like all visual artists, is engaged in a much longer-term, but no less defined, process that involves a dialogue about design ideas and the ability to capture those ideas successfully in form.
A designer’s success in the visual arts and retail space is dependent on the nod of approval from an exclusive set of approving eyes. The experts in shop front space design determine what is and what isn’t flavor of the month (or year), and their findings are published in leading design publications. Leading Swedish designer Lelo is at the forefront of this domain of retail space. What their experts say sets the precedent for other retailers attempting to raise the bar. These expert figures are always looking for new fresh designs that epitomize a social condition and will, in future, be iconic representations of a particular style and character.
Lack of substance in design was the initial reason why Andrea moved into other facets of the design process. Once a leading website designer, and although her design work on websites was spectacular, it was the sheer lack of physical form that saw her become more interested in real-life non-digital design concepts. Moving away from a small agency where she was designing quality websites like www.femalespleasure.com.au Andrea moved into more functional design work and its ornamental application to the retail sector. Luckily, this digital background successfully put her into the mainstream of the creative process, and many of these skills are applicable in her current work.
Having previously explored industrial design and objects, Andrea developed for herself a signature style that encapsulates the feminine form in a very much male dominated industry. In many ways she is the ideal industrial designer – she is very methodical, practical, she can do all of the engineering equally as well as the artistic side she posses. In the domestic arena of industrial design she has helped in the commercial design of the world’s most famous sex toy which is widely known as the rabbit vibrator. Her rationale for getting involved in such product line was that she just wanted products to be appreciated by a female audience. To quote her, “I wanted to be involved with products that females can live with, and use them on a weekly basis, and not just place them on some shelf to look at.” “I am trying to bring the qualities from the hand-made into a mass produced product.”
With functionality in product design a given these days, Andrea adds functionality. “We have a million well-designed chairs in the world, we don’t need new chairs!” Andrea states that any new product that gets designed must be accompanied by a sound reason for being brought into existence. It must offer something new to the design discourse, and ideally, be offered to users as a palpable emotional connection.
Feel free to get in contact with Females Pleasure for info on any of their products.