Conference PaperPDF Available

From Sex Toys to Pleasure Objects



This research works against essentializing notions of sexuality, gender and pleasure within the design of sex objects through proposing and developing the design of DIY kits suitable to manipulate and customise what objects designed for sex mean for the individual and their role in society in relation to gender and sexuality. This paper outlines a series of participatory workshops where artists and designers were invited to contribute to the design of the DIY kits. Three artistic works emerge from the workshops as beta DIY kits, alongside a future work of a DIY electronics kit and an online collaborative platform. These workshops led to the shift of focus from sex objects to pleasure objects.
From Sex Toys to Pleasure Objects
Vanessa Carpenter
Aalborg University
C. Meyers Vænge 15,
2450 Copenhagen,
Sarah Homewood
IT University of Copenhagen
Rued Langgaards Vej, 7,
Majken Overgaard
Catch Centre for Art and
Allegade 2, 3000,
Stefanie Wuschitz
Academy of Fine Arts
Vienna, Mz* Baltazar's
1090 Wien, Augasse 26
This research works against essentializing notions of sexuality, gender and pleasure within the
design of sex objects through proposing and developing the design of DIY kits suitable to
manipulate and customise what objects designed for sex mean for the individual and their role in
society in relation to gender and sexuality. This paper outlines a series of participatory workshops
where artists and designers were invited to contribute to the design of the DIY kits. Three artistic
works emerge from the workshops as beta DIY kits, alongside a future work of a DIY electronics kit
and an online collaborative platform. These workshops led to the shift of focus from sex objects to
pleasure objects.
Sex, Feminism, Participation, Pleasure, DIY, Kits, Future Technologies, Future Pleasure Objects
The design, form and function of technologies
designed for sex and pleasure communicate
societal norms, taboos and cultural beliefs around
the topic (Bardzell and Bardzell, 2011). This
research employs a feminist lens to challenge the
design of sex objects that dictates what kind of sex
we should be having. For example, the primacy of
phallic sex toys for women dictate a heterosexual
notion of sexuality. We propose that many devices
designed for sex perpetuate universalizing and
essentializing ideas of sex acts, sexuality and
gender. We explore the concept for an alternative
design in the form of a DIY kit. Instead of finding the
answer to the question of “what people really want”
in terms of sex toys, we propose giving users the
tools to get creative and find out for themselves.
As HCI moves into its third wave (Bødker, 2006),
humanistic topics and human concerns within the
design of technology for our daily lives have
emerged. Pleasure as a measure of HCI is being
increasingly popular (Huta and Ryan, 2010,
Hassenzahl et al, 2013, Diefenbach, Kolb and
Hassenzadl, 2014, Mekler and Hornbæk, 2016) and
researchers have pointed towards a focus on sex in
HCI, such as the Sex & Bodies session at CHI, 2011
(Bardzell and Bardzell, 2011) and (Eaglin and
Bardzell, 2011) or the article by Blythe and Jones
(2004) encouraging more research into this area.
Homewood and Heyer, 2017 explore what the
digitalisation of contraceptive methods means for
rituals around sex and parenthood.
The overall ambition of this research is to advance
the vision of what sex objects could be and do in
order to help mediate autonomous and non-binary
articulations of desire and the machine. We do this
through holding participatory workshops, where
invited participants can explore and experiment
together in developing a DIY kit. We are exploring
both currently available technologies and
speculating about what we would like to have at our
disposal in the future. Culminating from the
workshops, we present three artistic works created
under the title of “Future Pleasure Objects” and
conclude with a future works section, speculating on
how communities, artists, technologists, and politics
will create and relate to pleasure objects in a post-
porn reality.
Alongside the concept of the DIY kit, including the
three example kits: the artistic works, a third
contribution of this research to the field of HCI is the
discussion based on the shift within the story of this
research from “sex objects” to “pleasure objects”.
This is based upon observations from the
workshops and appears to reflect a change of
attitude in participants and organisers in regards to
sex once the boundaries of the design of sex toys
are breached and alternative materialities and forms
are possible.
© Carpenter et al. Published by
BCS Learning and Development Ltd.
Proceedings of EVA Copenhagen 2018, Denmark
From Sex Toys to Pleasure Objects
Vanessa Carpenter, Sarah Homewood, Majken Overgaard, Stefanie Wuschitz
2.1. Feminism
To re-imagine what sex means to us through
designing alternative sex objects is to trouble norms
in society. Our motivation behind this is inspired by
a feminist perspective. We are strongly influenced
by Donna Haraway’s social constructionist approach
to science, and therefore embrace situated
knowledge generated in the workshops (Haraway,
1991). Haraway sees objects as ‘boundary projects’,
boundaries manifest through social interaction. This
is our motivation behind adopting a design-based
method, where the objects themselves trouble, re-
imagine, and propose alternative boundaries in and
of themselves.
Third wave feminism is often associated with a sex-
positive and queer approach to feminist discourse,
art and activism. This approach tries to avoid the
mistakes of second wave feminism, which was
critiqued for having painfully replicated racism and
colonialism (Ahmed, 2017), as it only considered
and benefited white middle class heterosexual
women, while the feminist struggle of authors, artists
and activists not falling into these norms were
rendered invisible. It was also critiqued for focusing
too much on the risks of sexuality (abuse, abortion,
rape), instead of taking back our bodies as
autonomous sites for pleasure. Third wave feminism
therefore tries to approach issues intersectionality,
being aware of all intersecting discriminations a
person has to deal with (for example racism
intersecting with sexism, heteronormativism
intersecting with classism) (Mohanty, 2003, p.7).
And at the same time encouraging ownership of
bodies, and embracing sensuality, sexuality, lust
and love.
In third wave feminism ‘Gender’ is not believed to be
binary - male or female - but instead being enacted
and performed by a person in every moment of life.
Hence, gender performance is not equal to
biological sex or to sexual orientation. This kind of
questioning and unsettling of representationalist
politics (Barad, 2012) enables new artistic
experiments to emerge. They allow artists to
construct authentic ways of feeling, sensing,
touching, relating, enjoying, caring, desiring based
on their own diverse and fragmented experiences.
New technologies play a crucial role in enabling
these experiments, pushing the limits of cognition
and merging borders between human and non-
human. Queering and constructing intimacy through
pleasure objects this way becomes a form of world-
In de-constructing and re-constructing the design of
sex toys into a DIY kit, we create new, more
moveable boundaries around how sex objects
dictate what kind of sex we have and what sex
means to us as individuals. We therefore argue that
feminism is our methodology, and follow Bardzell,
(2010) in advocating for participatory methods when
designing for plurality and inclusive designs.
2.2. Design Anthropology
Design anthropology (Gunn, Otto & Smith, 2013)
was chosen as the vehicle for this research due to
the possibilities it allows for designing for the future
through a critical investigation of existing concepts
around the body and technology. Design is oriented
towards the future while anthropology provide
contextual knowledge and allows for theorizing the
usage. Design anthropology was chosen because it
allows us to combine observations, iterative actions
and reflections throughout the development
Rather than making statements about what is,
design is concerned with creating what might be.
(Gaver, 2012). In this work, we invite artists and
researchers to collectively discuss, debate and
create, wherein each iteration, whether it be a
workshop or an artefact, generates new
formulations of what future pleasure objects might
entail, and broadens the scope of what is possible
while simultaneously creating limitations on what we
mean by future pleasure objects.
An important aspect of design anthropology is to
gain an understanding of the current culture in order
to create something new (Gunn, Otto & Smith,
2013). Therefore, as preparation for the workshops
existing artistic and technology projects relating to
the body were studied in order to provide a research-
based framework.
3.1. Contemporary Art and the Body
Contemporary art since the 1960s has used the
body as a canvas and as a means of expression.
Over the years, artists increasingly claimed
ownership over their body and counteracted various
forms of external appropriations. To limit our field of
research we have focused on works of art affiliated
with technology and the DIY culture and include
artists who apply scientific knowledge to influence
their body in a subtle and subversive manner. For
example in Mary Magic, an ‘estrofemlab’ helps to
extract estrogen from body fluids to increase the
estrogen level and show the ‘Micro Performativity of
Sex Hormones’ (Tsang, 2016). Alternatively,
Heather Dewey-Hagborg, who collects strangers’
DNA such as hair or skin particles in public space to
reconstruct their identity (Dewey-Hagborg, 2014).
And the artist group Pechblenda, when they develop
first aid gynecological tools to ‘decolonize’ the
female body (Gynepunk) (Pechblenda, 2015). They
From Sex Toys to Pleasure Objects
Vanessa Carpenter, Sarah Homewood, Majken Overgaard, Stefanie Wuschitz
all approach intimate and private - for others,
invisible or hidden - body parts, functions,
sensations, circles and inner dynamics. Giulia
Tomasello follows the same strategy of subtle
intervention when she hides DIY biotechnologically
treated panty liners in female underwear
(Tomasello, 2018) in order to prevent vaginal
infections, emphasizing the immense impact of
consistently present microbes and bacteria on our
These projects embrace the body, inhabit it
consciously and seize it as site of artistic intervention
to increase well-being, health or pleasure. This
ambition is usually monopolized by industries such
as the pharma industry. This kind of ‘taking back the
body’ results in a curious exploration on the
intersection of art and science. Our project aligns
with these efforts in the sense that we follow similar
strategies, encourage similar DIY and citizen
science practices and share similar perspectives.
3.2. HCI and the Body
The very nature of Human Computer Interaction
(HCI) and Interaction Design is to explore the human
in relation to technology and vice versa, and there
exist a subset of fields relating specifically to
exploration of the body and bodily engagement.
Hk et al, (2018) in their work on soma-based
design, introduce and explore somaesthetics (the
perception of the body and experiences therein) and
describe how user experience can be described as
a living, purposive, sentient, perceptive body or
bodily subjectivity engaging in meaning-making
processes (Hk et al, (2018)). With this lens we
look towards related technologies in this work.
Nez-Pacheco and Loke explore how wearables
acting on the body (in their case, a vibration motor
encased in a scarf) can facilitate a dialogue between
soma and intellect (Nez-Pacheco and Loke,
2017). This points to how technology, acting on the
body, can be a facilitator of an experience, instead
of transmitting digital information (such as a
notification). In the Skintillates project, extremely
thin circuits are built into temporary tattoos,
demonstrating how skin can be used as an interface
(Lo et al, 2016). Haptics are used extensively in
bodily interaction and not always for transmission of
digital information. The Hedonic Haptics player
(Boer, Vallgrda and Cahill, 2017) is a device which
is worn on the body and transmits vibrotactile
patterns as a form of experience. In “How Bodies
Matter: Five Themes for Interaction Design”,
Klemmer, Hartmann and Takayama (2006) explain,
“One of the most powerful human capabilities
relevant to designers is the intimate incorporation of
an artifact into bodily practice to the point where
people perceive that artifact as an extension of
themselves”. It is in this framing that we seek to
create future pleasure objects, devices which are
still devices with electronics, sensors, actuators, but
which become an extension of the person, helping
them to explore their bodies, and understand what
pleasure means to them.
DIY (Do-It-Yourself) cultures contain many sub-
cultures. Some of these subcultures focus on the
creation of kits, where you can create something
following instructions, and use a set of modular
elements which are provided in a kit. A simple
example of this might be a DIY-craft kit, or food
based, such as make your own jam, or electronics
based. Examples of DIY kits exist extensively within
academia, such as a DIY paper machines kit (Oh et
al, 2017), a DIY circuitry kit (Kim, 2013) or a DIY
silicon soft circuit kit (Nagels et al, 2018). When we
conducted desktop research investigating on-
market DIY kits and the body, we found that current
available technologies are primarily focusing on two
parameters: penetration and vibration. Users can
mold various phallic shaped objects and equip them
with vibrators or use existing objects such as fruit to
create their own vibrators, supported by open-
source device platforms such as OSSex (Comingle,
2018). While these types of kits and platform do offer
a craft-like approach to constructing an artifact, we
felt there was an opportunity for expansion into new
domains, which are explorative rather than goal-
We were particularly interested in what a kit of
electronics might contain if artists were to design
one for people to facilitate their own pleasure.
Electronic kits are popular, many can be found on
sites such as SparkFun (Sparkfun Kits, 2018), an
electronic supplier and community for people
developing such kits which typically include all the
tools to build a functional device. We also gained
inspiration from Perner-Wilson’s “Kit of no parts”
(Perner-Wilson, Buechley and Satomi, 2010)
wherein she introduces a set of craft materials which
act as catalysts for creative exploration of material
interaction without adhering to a typical “build-this”
kit such as the kind found at Sparkfun. Similarly,
LittleBits offers kits which offer an exploratory
experience, their basic kits offer (mainly children)
the opportunity to experiment with electronics, and
they also offer derivative kits such as their
sound/synth kit: (LittleBits Synth, 2018).
We imagine a series of DIY kits co-created with
artist, offering a concept such as those presented in
the section “Platform for artistic pleasure kits”. We
are currently developing our own kit, the Kit Zero: a
barebones kit which offers a series of vibration
motors with multiple types of input. This kit
investigates what the vibrator actually is, what
From Sex Toys to Pleasure Objects
Vanessa Carpenter, Sarah Homewood, Majken Overgaard, Stefanie Wuschitz
technological boundaries there are and how
vibration can be connected to our body in new ways
and represents an alternative to binary pleasure
objects; with this kit, users can explore various types
of vibration as output and various types of input. As
an example, a person might like to explore how
stroking a stone, fabric, or moving hands through
water could control a vibrator. The input methods
are limited only by imagination and the output can
be explored, in this first phase, via 4 different styles
and sizes of motors.
5.1. The workshops
The workshops are based on a hacktivist, open
source approach where knowledge is produced
collectively. Furthermore, our project relies on
feminist hacking as an art-based research practice
involving an intensive knowledge-sharing process,
structured around breaking with feminine gender
scripts, transgressing gender norms and embracing
technological challenges. Feminist hacking is about
developing artistic technology, based on open
hardware, from a queer and female perspective.
We wanted to work out of safe spaces; an intentional
environment where knowledge exchange is
encouraged among participants and where we
enable learning from each other to come up with
new ideas and concepts. Thus, we set up the
workshops in two environments in Vienna and
Copenhagen which both have an emphasis on
inclusion and creating safe and creative
5.2. Workshop 1: Mz* Baltazar's Lab, Vienna, 12.
In this first workshop, we knew we wanted to
explicitly set the challenge to design away from
phallic sex toys and instead focus on bodily
engagement and exploration. Together with the
founders of Mz* Baltazar's Lab in Vienna, we sent
an invite under the title Future Sexual Objects to
everyone on their mailing-list. Twelve participants
joined us with very different backgrounds such as
medical doctors, artists, designers, hackers and
people with an interest in technology and/or the
body. The invite specified:
Sex toys are often limited to being phallic in shape
and having limited modes. We know there is room
for improvement, but what are the possibilities for
shapes and features? The overall theme of the
evening will be, how can we re-invent the vibrator?
The emphasis will be on discussing potential
features and how various features might affect the
understanding of sexuality and the relation to
As we wanted to be inclusive of everyone’s skills and
we only had 2.5 hours at our disposal for the
workshop, we did not plan for technology
development, or hacking, to occur. Our aim was to
investigate if people were actually interested in the
subject, in sharing knowledge about the subject and
if so, to start a dialogue about future joint projects
Participants were shown a presentation of images
featuring different shapes, materials, technologies
and ways of stimulating the body such as
acupuncture and reflexology to expand their
associations of bodies and technology. Following
this, we held a discussion about pleasure and how
participants related to technology and their bodies.
Participants exhibited surprising openness and
willingness to share both what they considered
problematic in relation to current technology
developed for the body and ideas for potential future
projects and 3 projects (described below) emerged
as a result of this workshop. However, some
participants indicated they would be interested in
working with bodily interaction, though not sex toys.
Participants were not only interested re-inventing
the vibrator but rather widened the scope to
encompass pleasure on a whole-body scale and
expressed interest in the exploration of technology
that goes beyond vaginal stimulation alone.
Workshop 1: Conclusion
As the debate focused on body and pleasure in a
broader sense, the title of the project evolved to
become Future Pleasure Objects. In this stream,
there was significant interest in the development of
DIY kits and three projects emerged from the
5.3. Workshop 2: S-rummet, Copenhagen,
For the second workshop we decided on a different
approach in regards to finding participants as we
wanted to start prototyping kits. We invited our
personal connections, including academics, artists,
hackers, creatives and people from industry. We
curated a diverse group to facilitate debate and
designed the workshop using a group based
approach wherein participants in groups debated
amongst themselves. This was similar to a focus
group (Bjørner, 2015, p. 73) but with more emphasis
on casual debate and brainstorming than analysis of
a product.
The workshop began with the same presentation as
in Vienna, however, we changed the headline to
Future Pleasure Objects. Afterwards we asked
participants to form groups and tried to ensure there
was a mix of artists, academics, hackers and others
in each group. We asked groups to consider the
following keywords, which were derived from the
From Sex Toys to Pleasure Objects
Vanessa Carpenter, Sarah Homewood, Majken Overgaard, Stefanie Wuschitz
presentation: Material, Shape, Context, Triggers
through other means (light), Surfaces, Links to
external events, Portable, Shape shifting, Sound,
Clothing, and Sensors. Each group created a set of
mind maps noting their discussion and these are
briefly presented below:
Group 1: A focus on treasure maps arose, asking
about how geocaching or dead-drops might be used
to convey data which could be interpreted as
actuated activity in a bodily device.
Group 2: There was a distinct focus on developing
products with aesthetic quality and using aesthetics
as a pleasure trigger.
Group 3: An interest in sound, movement and
experience was dominant in this group as they
explored sound versus visuals as potential sources
of pleasure.
We derived a set of common themes from the
groups, namely an interest in exploring unusual
ways of interacting with the body including: sound,
light, data, via public activity sensing, fluids, and
memories. Further, two strong themes emerged,
that of the difference between public and private,
and interpersonal versus personal relationships.
There was significant discussion about how to
engage with the world outside the bedroom,
including the city, other people, landscapes, and as
mentioned, public activity. Further, the topic of
interpersonal interaction was also strong,
participants imagined how we might interact with
others to create and enjoy pleasure, without those
others necessarily being a sexual or highly personal
Workshop 2: Conclusion
All groups were interested in developing kits and
had many ideas for future projects. We found that
this second workshop further informed our work in
the development of objects designed for pleasure for
the individual’s body.
5.4. Workshop 3: Vienna, 12.2017
We returned to Vienna to have a dialogue with the
artists responsible for the three projects which
emerged during the first workshop. The artists are
Patricia Reis and Kristin Weissenberger. Patricia
Reis is a researcher who has been researching the
relation between art, technology and the body (Reis,
2018). For Future Pleasure Objects she is
experimenting with breath and sensation on the
body. Kristin Weissenberger works with various
materials, primarily ceramics. Kristing was joined by
Günter Seyfried, both from Pavillon35 (2018), and
they were joined by Doris Roth from [kat]alab (2018).
Together, they developed a project involving
ceramics and the development of a new type of
hydrogel. The three projects are described in the
section: Platform for Artistic Pleasure Kits.
5.5. Summary of Workshops: Moving from idea
development to a DIY Kit platform
The workshops informed what the DIY kits might
contain in relation to materials, shapes and ways of
interacting. Most interestingly was a move away
from silicone as a material, the desire to experiment
with other types of shapes than the phallic and
penetrable shape, and to develop new social ways
of interacting through technology in order to achieve
pleasure. We found that the technologies developed
were not aimed at women or men, but focused on
non-heterosexual notion of sexuality.
As a consequence of the discussion at the last
workshop in Vienna we aim to develop a platform for
future pleasure objects, alongside artists and
hackers, who combine electronics with other
mediums, interaction modalities and our physical
world to enable people to explore pleasure, and
ultimately themselves, and others.
As the three projects were being developed
(described below), we begin to develop the idea of
an online platform for artistic pleasure kits. This will
take the form of a website whose aim is to become
a platform wherein artists co-create the kits with
those curious about non-binary pleasure objects.
We imagine a series of kits offering concepts such
as the below described Ardourino, Touching you/me
with my breath and Text Me, in a kit format.
The components needed to build such a device
would be offered as a DIY-Kit containing the
necessary elements, instructions, and importantly,
suggestion to experiment and derive new
One of the first kits to be offered on this platform will
be our future work, Kit Zero as described earlier in
the section: DIY Culture and Kits. This website’s
content is owned by the artists and potential surplus
is shared collectively. In this way the website
becomes an experiment for future business models,
where artists are recognized for being the producers
of content.
The following three works are presented as beta
versions of Future Pleasure Objects DIY kits:
From Sex Toys to Pleasure Objects
Vanessa Carpenter, Sarah Homewood, Majken Overgaard, Stefanie Wuschitz
6.1. Text Me
Text Me by Patricia Reis & Yara Bartel is a wearable
device which does not rely on binary gender
assumptions to operate. Instead, it focuses on the
spine, where 12 vibration motors are triggered in
varying patterns according to the content of text
messages sent to the device. Reis and Bartel aim to
facilitate a digital translation between body and
mind, triggering body sensations via text message.
6.2. Touching you/me with my breath
Touching you/me with my breath by Patricia Reis is
an interactive, non-visual device which aims to bring
people together via breath, or allow someone to
explore their own sense of pleasure via their own
breath. As breath is sensed, a microcontroller
translates the rhythm, intensity and humidity of the
breath into vibration patterns using 10 motors on an
adaptive textile belt. This piece is again, genderless
in nature, and seeks to subvert visuality as the
primary mode of experience as it stimulates the
6.3. Ardourino
Ardourino by Kristin Weissenberger, Günter
Seyfried from Pavillon35 & Doris Roth from [kat]alab
is an environmentally sensitive hydrogel which is
reactive to electromagnetism.
Ceramic vessels transfer the hydrogel on to the
body, and an electromagnetic field is applied,
activating the gel and creating sensations on the
7. Discussion
Our overall ambition is to advance the vision of the
future of design, form and function of technologies
designed for sex and pleasure and help mediate
autonomous and non-binary articulations of desire
and the machine. Entering the workshops, we came
with a framing of what non-binary sex objects might
be. The first workshop informed us that pleasure
was much more interesting a term than sex, and
extends to pleasure of the body, learning about the
body, and experiencing the body. In workshop 2, we
heard many ideas for how this might happen, both
experiencing the body and experiencing new
sensations, associations and having new
experiences in new contexts.
There is an interest from artists, designers,
academics, hackers, creatives and others to
develop new concepts entirely about how we relate
to pleasure and to our bodies. This move from sex
to pleasure was of vital importance. Before we
began the first workshop we had many discussions
about what exactly disturbed us about this area,
what needed to change. Besides our feminist and
hacker approaches, we knew that sex extends
beyond genital based pleasure. We developed the
presentation we showed to the workshops to
showcase these thought processes, asking: what
other forms could pleasure take, and must it always
be sexual in nature?
We see the three projects which emerged from this
process and the upcoming Kit Zero as
representations of the variety of forms future
pleasure objects might take and we hope that the
platform we develop can provide space for others to
engage in this debate and create their own future
Figure 1: Text Me
Figure 2: Touching you/me with my breath
Figure 3: Ardourino
From Sex Toys to Pleasure Objects
Vanessa Carpenter, Sarah Homewood, Majken Overgaard, Stefanie Wuschitz
pleasure objects. These kits represent, and offer an
opportunity to explore how sex, or pleasure objects
dictate what kind of sex we have and what sex and
pleasure means to us as individuals. The kits
enables users to explore their own sensitivity, to get
inspired by a non-essentialist notions of gender and
to tinker with a wide range of materials and
technologies to extend norm-regulated (normative)
body practices.
In this paper we document how our speculative
concept of a future pleasure object emerged from
three DIY workshops held in Vienna and
Copenhagen. Based on these workshops our focus
shifted from alternative and DIY forms of sex toys to
a less genital-centered and simultaneously more
sensation-based approach to bodily exploration and
We situate our research in the feminist 3rd wave
movement which fosters awareness of one’s own
desires, claims gender to be non-binary and
embraces sexuality as part of our everyday lives.
We present three artistic works which emerged from
these workshops, Text Me, Touching you/me with
my breath, and Ardourino. All three reflect the
discussions about the need for a deeper
engagement with the participants' personal and
intimate needs and desires. These three works act
as beta DIY kits, alongside our presented future
work: Kit Zero which provides sensors and actuators
to begin forming one’s own kit for exploration, will
become part of an online platform, offering DIY-kits
co-created with artists to help explore their own
concepts and understand of pleasure.
This work acts as a starting point, inviting others to
join our research and contribute to future pleasure
Ahmed, S., 2017. Living a feminist life. Duke
University Press.
Barad, Karen, Kvinder, Køn & Forskning 12 NR. 1-2
2012, p.12.
Bardzell, J. and Bardzell, S. (2011) ‘“Pleasure is
Your Birthright”: Digitally Enabled Designer Sex
Toys as a Case of Third-Wave HCI’, in Proceedings
of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in
Computing Systems (CHI 2011), pp. 257266. doi:
Bardzell, S. (Indiana U. (2010) ‘Feminist HCI :
Taking Stock and Outlining an Agenda for Design’,
Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on
Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 1301
1310. doi: 10.1145/1753326.1753521.
Bdeir, A. (2018) LittleBits Synth. Ayah Bdeir.
Available from: [last
accessed June 14]
Bjørner, T. 2015. Qualitative methods for Consumer
Research, Hans Reitzels Forlag.
Bødker, S. (2006) ‘When second wave HCI meets
third wave challenges’, Proceedings of the 4th
Nordic conference on Human-computer interaction
changing roles - NordiCHI ’06, (October), pp. 18.
doi: 10.1145/1182475.1182476.
Blythe and Jones. 2004. Human computer (sexual)
interactions. interactions 11, 5 (September 2004),
Boer, L., Cahill, B. and Vallgårda, A., 2017, June.
The Hedonic Haptics Player: A Wearable Device to
Experience Vibrotactile Compositions. In
Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Conference
Companion Publication on Designing Interactive
Systems (pp. 297-300). ACM.
Butler, J., 1997. Gender is burning: Questions of
appropriation and subversion. Cultural Politics, 11,
Butler, J., 2005. Giving an account of oneself.
Oxford University Press.
Butler, J., 2011. Gender trouble: Feminism and the
subversion of identity. Routledge.
Comingle. 2018. Comingle OSSex. Available from: [12.06.2018].
de la Bellacasa, M.P., 2017. Matters of care:
Speculative ethics in more than human worlds.
University of Minnesota Press.
Dewey-Hagborg, H. (2014) Stranger Visions.
Heather Dewey-Hagborg. Available from:
[last accessed June 14].
Diefenbach, S., Kolb, N. and Hassenzahl, M., 2014,
June. The'hedonic'in human-computer interaction:
history, contributions, and future research
directions. In Proceedings of the 2014 conference
on Designing interactive systems (pp. 305-314).
From Sex Toys to Pleasure Objects
Vanessa Carpenter, Sarah Homewood, Majken Overgaard, Stefanie Wuschitz
Eaglin, A. and Bardzell, S., 2011, May. Sex toys and
designing for sexual wellness. In CHI'11 Extended
Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems
(pp. 1837-1842). ACM.
Foucault, M., 1990. The history of sexuality: An
introduction, volume I. Trans. Robert Hurley. New
York: Vintage.
Gaver, W. (2012) What should we expect from
research through design?. In Proceedings of the
SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in
Computing Systems (CHI '12). ACM, New York, NY,
USA, 937-946. Available from:
6.2208538 [last accessed June 14]
Gislev, Kjærsgaard, (Trans)forming Knowledge and
Design Concepts in Design Workshops in Design
Anthropology - Theory and Practice, Gunn, Otto &
Smith, 2013, p. 51.
Gunn, Otto & Smith, Design Anthropology - Theory
and Practice. In Gislev, Kjærsgaard, (Trans)forming
Knowledge and Design Concepts in Design
Workshops in Design Anthropology - Theory and
Practice, Gunn, Otto & Smith, 2013 p. 4.
Haraway, D., 1991. A cyborg manifesto. New York,
Hassenzahl, M., Eckoldt, K., Diefenbach, S.,
Laschke, M., Len, E. and Kim, J., 2013. Designing
moments of meaning and pleasure. Experience
design and happiness. International Journal of
Design, 7(3).
Homewood, S. and Heyer, C. (2017) ‘Turned
on/turned off: Speculating on the microchip-based
contraceptive implant’, in DIS 2017 - Proceedings of
the 2017 ACM Conference on Designing Interactive
Systems. doi: 10.1145/3064663.3064726.
Huta, V. and Ryan, R.M., 2010. Pursuing pleasure
or virtue: The differential and overlapping well-being
benefits of hedonic and eudaimonic motives.
Journal of Happiness Studies, 11(6), pp.735-762.
Hyunjoo Oh, Sherry Hsi, Kristof Klipfel, and Mark D.
Gross. 2017. Paper Machines. In Proceedings of the
Eleventh International Conference on Tangible,
Embedded, and Embodied Interaction (TEI '17).
ACM, New York, NY, USA, 771-774. DOI:
Jun Sik (Jason) Kim. 2013. Plus minus: passive
education of basic circuitry through DIY product
design. In Proceedings of the 12th International
Conference on Interaction Design and Children (IDC
'13). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 557-560.
[kat]alab, 2018. Available from:
Kim, J. (2013) Plus minus: passive education of
basic circuitry through DIY product design. In
Proceedings of the 12th International Conference
on Interaction Design and Children (IDC '13). ACM,
New York, NY, USA, 557-560. Available from:
0.2485864 [last accessed June 14]
Klemmer, S. R., Hartmann, B., Takayama, L.
(2006) How bodies matter: five themes for
interaction design. In Proceedings of the 6th
conference on
Designing Interactive systems (DIS '06). ACM, New
York, NY, USA, 140-149.Available from: [last
accessed June 14]
LittleBits Synth, 2018. Available from:
Lo, J., Jung, D., Lin, L., Wong, N., Bui, D., Paulos,
E. (2016) Skintillates: Designing and Creating
Epidermal Interactions. In Proceedings of the 2016
ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems
(DIS '16). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 853-864.
Available from: [last
accessed June 14]
Mekler, E.D. and Hornbæk, K., 2016, May.
Momentary pleasure or lasting meaning?:
Distinguishing eudaimonic and hedonic user
experiences. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI
Conference on Human Factors in Computing
Systems (pp. 4509-4520). ACM.
Mohanty, C., 2003. Feminism without Borders:
Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity. Duke
University Press.
Nagels, S., Ramakers, R., Luyten, K., Deferme, W.
(2018) Silicone Devices: A Scalable DIY Approach
for Fabricating Self-Contained Multi-Layered
Soft Circuits using Microfluidics. In Proceedings of
the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in
Computing Systems (CHI '18). ACM, New York, NY,
USA, Paper 188, 13 pages.
Oh, H., Hsi, W., Klipfel, K., Gross, M.D. (2017) Paper
Machines. In Proceedings of the Eleventh
International Conference on Tangible, Embedded,
and Embodied Interaction (TEI '17). ACM, New
York, NY, USA, 771-774. A
From Sex Toys to Pleasure Objects
Vanessa Carpenter, Sarah Homewood, Majken Overgaard, Stefanie Wuschitz
Pechblenda. (2015) GynePunk, the cyborg witches
of DIY gynecology Ewen Chardronnet. Available
les-sorcieres-cyborg-de-la-gynecologie-diy/ [last
accessed June 14].
Perner-Wilson, H., Buechley, L., Satomi, M. (2010)
Handcrafting textile interfaces from a kit-of-no-
parts. In Proceedings of the fifth international
conference on Tangible, embedded, and embodied
interaction (TEI '11). ACM, New York, NY, USA,
61-68. Available from: [last
accessed June 14]
Pavillon35. 2018. Available from: [12.06.2018]
Reis, Patricia J. 2018. Available from: [12.06.2018]
Sparkfun Kits, 2018. Robotic Kits. Available from:
Tomasello, G. (2018) Future Flora Giulia
Tomasello.Available from: [last accessed
June 14].
Tsang, M. (2016) Estrofem Lab: Estrogen Geeking.
MAGGIC Mary Tsang. Available from: [last
accessed June 14].
Full-text available
“Physical Love – Accessories for Closeness and Tenderness” are made for sexual education in pairs. They’re a counterproposal to today's sex toys, aiming to provoke closeness instead of meeting the simplest sexual needs and stereotypes. The project was made as an attempt to aid modern intimate relationships through design. The “Physical Love” consists of 3 independent objects, related to 3 universal areas of sexuality: Before sex – Invitation – a lamp dedicated to easing problems with sexual communication and the expression of erotic initiative; In the act – Consonance – an electronic device that helps in achieving sexual harmony with one’s partner through listening to their heartbeat; After intercourse – Presence – a set for creating jewelry from “bedroom memories”.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We present a scalable Do-It-Yourself (DIY) fabrication workflow for prototyping highly stretchable yet robust devices using a CO2 laser cutter, which we call Silicone Devices. Silicone Devices are self-contained and thus embed components for input, output, processing, and power. Our approach scales to arbitrary complex devices as it supports techniques to make multi-layered stretchable circuits and buried VIAs. Additionally, high-frequency signals are supported as our circuits consist of liquid metal and are therefore highly conductive and durable. To enable makers and interaction designers to prototype a wide variety of Silicone Devices, we also contribute a stretchable sensor toolkit, consisting of touch, proximity, sliding, pressure, and strain sensors. We demonstrate the versatility and novel opportunities of our technique by prototyping various samples and exploring their use cases. Strain tests report on the reliability of our circuits and preliminary user feedback reports on the user-experience of our workflow by non-engineers.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
For over 50 years, hormone-based contraceptives have allowed women to control their fertility, thus reconfiguring society and how women relate to their body. On the horizon are long-life microchip-based implanted contraceptives that can be turned on and off, which may further the societal disruptions of "the pill". Framed as interactive technology, we speculate on the design space of controllable implanted contraceptives. We explored existing implanted contraceptives through a performance ethnography of their implantation. Inspiration from this process informed a speculative video of living with controllable implants and a guide for healthcare professionals. These materials, along with expert presentations, backgrounded a design workshop in which participants unpacked issues around controllable contraceptive implants. Participants created and roleplayed physical mock-ups of controllers, manifesting discussions around security, relationships and hormones. Drawing from the outcomes of the workshop, we produce a speculative design in the form of a film and physical mock-ups.
What does it mean to lead a moral life? This book offers a provocative outline for a new ethical practice—one responsive to the need for critical autonomy and grounded in a new sense of the human subject. It takes as her starting point one's ability to answer the questions “What have I done?” and “What ought I to do?” The book shows that these questions can be answered only by asking a prior question, “Who is this who is under an obligation to give an account of itself and to act in certain ways?” Because I find that I cannot give an account of myself without accounting for the social conditions under which I emerge, ethical reflection requires a turn to social theory. In three chapters, the book demonstrates how difficult it is to give an account of oneself, and how this lack of self-transparency and narratibility is crucial to an ethical understanding of the human. In brilliant dialogue with Adorno, Levinas, Foucault, and other thinkers, it eloquently argues the limits, possibilities, and dangers of contemporary ethical thought. The book offers a critique of the moral self, arguing that the transparent, rational, and continuous ethical subject is an impossible construct that seeks to deny the specificity of what it is to be human. We can know ourselves only incompletely, and only in relation to a broader social world that has always preceded us and already shaped us in ways we cannot grasp. If inevitably we are partially opaque to ourselves, how can giving an account of ourselves define the ethical act? And doesn't an ethical system that holds us impossibly accountable for full self-knowledge and self-consistency inflict a kind of psychic violence, leading to a culture of self-beratement and cruelty? How does the turn to social theory offer us a chance to understand the specifically social character of our own unknowingness about ourselves? By recasting ethics as a project in which being ethical means becoming critical of norms under which we are asked to act, but which we can never fully choose, the book illuminates what it means for us as “fallible creatures” to create and share an ethics of vulnerability, humility, and ethical responsiveness.
To care can feel good, or it can feel bad. It can do good, it can oppress. But what is care? A moral obligation? A burden? A joy? Is it only human? In Matters of Care, María Puig de la Bellacasa presents a powerful challenge to conventional notions of care, exploring its significance as an ethical and political obligation for thinking in the more than human worlds of technoscience and naturecultures. Matters of Care contests the view that care is something only humans do, and argues for extending to non-humans the consideration of agencies and communities that make the living web of care by considering how care circulates in the natural world. The first of the book's two parts, "Knowledge Politics," defines the motivations for expanding the ethico-political meanings of care, focusing on discussions in science and technology that engage with sociotechnical assemblages and objects as lively, politically charged "things." The second part, "Speculative Ethics in Antiecological Times," considers everyday ecologies of sustaining and perpetuating life for their potential to transform our entrenched relations to natural worlds as "resources." From the ethics and politics of care to experiential research on care to feminist science and technology studies, Matters of Care is a singular contribution to an emerging interdisciplinary debate that expands agency beyond the human to ask how our understandings of care must shift if we broaden the world.
Conference Paper
The Hedonic Haptics player is a portable wearable device that plays back vibrotactile compositions. It consists of three domes each of which houses a vibration motor providing vibrotactile sensations to the wearer. The domes are connected to a control unit the size of a small Walkman. The Hedonic Haptics player can store up to ten different compositions made up of haptic signals varying in amplitude, waveform and length. We use these different compositions to explore the aesthetic potential of vibrational haptics in an embodied wearable setup.
Conference Paper
This studio invites participants to design and build machines with different kinds of paper and craft materials. We will introduce papercrafting using our design tool "FoldMecha", mechanical components, and prototyping methods for physical construction. Participants interact with sample projects and explore a motion library, then begin the ideation process for their own working machine. During the studio, papercrafting techniques and various craft materials will be provided to further inspire participants creative process. The goal is to provide hands-on experiences in designing and building machines with paper using design tools and prototyping techniques that we have developed. The studio will culminate in the "show & tell" demo and discussion about bottom up and bricolage design approaches as a means of creative thinking and learning. Outcomes will be showcased at the TEI events.