Designer Spotlight: Ti Chang
“When I noticed that the quality of design for women’s sex toys was lacking due to the stigma, I knew I needed to do something about it.”
At the last edition of the International Lingerie Show (ILS), we met with a new pleasure product company called Crave and were immediately struck by the brand’s beautiful aesthetics and wonderful collection of vibrators and accessories. Crave’s CEO, Michael Topolovac took us on a tour of the Crave line at the show and enjoyed learning about the high-end engineering and construction that goes into Crave. As we get closer to ILS, we’ll have the opportunity to see the brand in action again. But for our readers who aren’t heading out to Vegas this weekend, we have this wonderful interview with Crave’s designer and co-founder, Ti Chang. Enjoy!
Ti, thanks so much for joining us. I was hoping you could give our readers a little insight into what Crave is all about and your role there?
Crave is about creating modern sex toys for women. We are a company based in San Francisco where we design and build our vibrators right here in our SF facility. As a co-founder and as a woman, I feel we have been underserved in the sex toy product category, and our goal is to contribute to the shift that is happening in adult products to move from novelty to modern products. My role at Crave is the design of all our products as well as various brand touch points from trade shows to point of purchase displays (POS).
Could you tell us a little bit about your background? How did you get into and help launch Crave?
I am an industrial designer by training. I got my BS in Industrial Design from Georgia Tech and my MA from Royal College of Art. I’ve designed products for corporations, from hair brushes to bicycles to furniture. Through my previous work experiences I realized my passion is designing for women.
When I noticed that the quality of design for women’s sex toys was lacking due to the stigma, I knew I needed to do something about it.
Shortly after, I started INCOQNITO – a boutique company that specialized in elegant, wearable sex toys. Think jewelry meets sex toys. I began that company in 2008 and later at a tradeshow, I met Michael Topolovac who founded Crave. We realized that we shared a similar vision of what we aim to do — so we ended up bringing the companies together and I became co-founder and lead designer of Crave in 2010.
In our last ILS show report, we showcased some of Crave’s foreplay jewelry. Could you tell our readers a little bit about this collection?
The foreplay jewelry was designed to shift the thinking around sex toys. I believe sex toys should be well designed and elegant like any consumer product today. It does not have to look gaudy or like a phallic shaped object.
Above: Crave’s Droplet pendants.
“The line is intended to be elegant, sexy and blur the lines between private and public.”
Above: Classy bracelets by day, naughty playthings by night…
The aesthetics of the foreplay jewelry are gorgeous and feel like they would be easily merchandisable at a boutique alongside lingerie. How would you recommend lingerie retailers merchandise Crave?
Above: Crave’s Wink is designed to fit in with the rest of your cosmetics and accessories for ultimate discretion.
Because the jewelry is so subtle, which adds to its appeal and magic. Though on a display, one might not pick up on its appeal right away. With that said, Crave provides a POP display that showcases the products on a clean pedestal that contains all three products along with a graphic line art that explains its purpose. We found that the graphic explanation has significantly contributed to store sales.
Above: Crave’s Duet is a virtually silent dual-motor USB-rechargeable vibrator with 4 vibration settings, 4 power settings with Turbo mode. Comes in Crimson, Purple, and Black.
We understand that Crave’s prototypes are made in-house. How long does it take you to take an idea from the page to prototype? How often to you update theCrave collection?
This varies on the overall complexity of the the product. Some can be as short as two to three months, while others may take closer to six to eight months.
Who on the team is involved in making the prototypes?
CRAVE is young company, so it’s always a collective effort. I lead the effort with the support of engineers. Overall, it is a collective team effort on many levels.
Are there any artists or artistic movements that influence your design style?
I am a big fan of german + japanese design sensibility. The concise engineering, clean aesthetic, and considered materiality is very beautiful to me. To name some designers: Dieter Rams, Naoto Fukasawa, and Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec.
Do you work primarily work on paper on a computer when you start a new design? And once you start finalizing a new product, what tools (computer design programs, models, etc?) are you using to bring it to life?
I always start with sketches, by thinking on paper it helps me to understand the form before I begin to model in CAD. I use Solidworks and Shot to help render images for visualization of color, material, etc. We utilize 3D printing to help us touch and feel the form and to check the ergonomics of the product. We have a full workshop in our studio where we can even prototype silicone molds and various mechanical parts to validate the engineering. It is an iterative process of prototyping, CADing, and redesigning until we believe we are delivering the experience we aim for.
Do you have a favorite Crave product?
This is really like picking a favorite child..hmm. I would say Duet is my favorite vibrator and closely followed by Wink. I love the cuff bracelets- I actually wear two sets on one arm. The set of four leather bracelets is very striking.
What’s next for Crave? Any trade shows that you’ll be at that we should let our readers know about?
We typically show at International Lingerie Show and ANME Founders show. These are the two main shows we attend at the moment.
For any retailers reading this that want to learn more about carrying Crave at their store, who should we put them in contact with?
We have a contact form online at our website where you can reach us for dealer inquiries: www.lovecrave.com/connect