Jing Yu
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ORAL

Taste and sex are some of the most personal and subjective experiences possible. Paradoxically, communication relies on a shared understanding of an input (e.g. vocabulary). Our challenge designing for ORAL was — if our senses are highly subjective, can we use sensory immersion as an effective means of implementing a designer’s intention beyond subliminal messaging?

ORAL is a project developed by Yuxi Liu and Jing Yu during the Sensory Design course at CIID under the guidance of Yasaman Sheri.

Convenient, on demand human intimacy

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The Brief

Design a sensory interface to a (digital) interaction. Define an existing interaction and focus your sensory experience.

ORAL is intimate. Intimacy is core to our health and experience. Not all of us have access to this fundamental need — many lack the time, ability, money or luck.
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Concept

ORAL distills key intimate experiences, such as sex, into accessible gustatory immersion kits. Our carefully engineered kits require no setup, no uncomfortable human interaction, are 100% plant-based and certified organic. At ORAL, we believe everyone deserves an intimate experience as rich and immersive as the real thing — ORAL is affordable and can be found with select retailers or delivered straight to your door.

The taste design panel

The taste design panel

Taste Design

12 participants tasted a wide panel of flavors, ranging from tapioca gel to pink peppercorns. Each person was given instructions to reflect on the emotions and memories (if any) of the taste and texture, rather than describing the taste itself.

Most literature we found defines four stages of sex; excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution —  (1) Foreplay (2) Build-up (2) Orgasm and (4) Afterglow. Using the palette of flavors we had catalogued, we build each stage as a combination of 3–4 of the flavors closest to the sensations attributed to each stage.

Packaging Design

ORAL has no technology to hide behind, it is important to finesse every element starting with packaging. With ORAL we wanted to capture the fetishization of the “unboxing” experience. In our design, we pay homage to the attention to detail and minimalism of modern consumer electronic packaging. The packaging was made to strike a balance between something was beautiful and polished while still being believably mass market. For materials, we chose a thick, semi-glossy card stock to build our containers from — the finish had an appropriate rigidity and refinement while not being as precious as acrylic or painted mdf.

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ORAL was presented at the sensory design exhibition at CIID in August 2018 to a mixed reception and no critical acclaim.

“Can I take one home to share with my husband?”
Do you honestly think this is going to replace sex for people?

Critiques on the Present

Oral was a provocation to question the services and products already out there that help automate “basic human necessities” like food and nutrition. Products which make human experiences more convenient but don’t necessarily make our lives all that much better. Yet, there is no denying there is a real need — people do lack time, ability, etc. to “have the real thing.” The rise of these types of products espouses the idea of lynchpinning, the idea that you can make your whole life better if you make some “inconvenient” task better or easier. With the surge of the Artisan/Crafted and Slow-Food movement — we feel society is finding out that is not always true. That there is a value in the real thing that cannot be mocked. ORAL is meant to be an extreme expression of that sort of lynchpinning, while still having real function, real intrigue (though that’s not too hard with sex), and a real sensory experience.

Thoughts on the Future

Of course, there will always be room for further refinement. However, there are two conceptual extensions of ORAL that we did not have the chance to explore.

The first being extensions on intimate experiences. ORAL was not meant to be a sex-focused product but a sensory kit for intimate experiences that could include experiences such as a first date or lovers quarrel. The second being personalized ORAL kits. Kits that would take one person’s unique subjectivity around taste and map that to unique flavor profiles for different types of intimate experiences. Personalized ORAL kits could be sent to friends or lovers to experience a synesthetic blend of each other’s subjective tastes

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