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Women in Design: Interview with WISP’s Product Manager

We interviewed the Product Manager at WISP, Lu Chuan, so you could get a little insight into our team, a family of sex positive, dedicated individuals. Read all about her journey into Sensual Tech and who has inspired her to reach her goals.

Hi Lu, could you tell us a little about your role at WISP?

Currently I am the Product Manager, but of course, within startups, you never have just one job. Over the three years I have been with WISP I’ve had to develop my marketing and research skills and I have also been head of operations and logistics. It’s been pretty full on!

What was your journey into this role?

I was in my last year of university studying Industrial Design when I met Wan at a design exhibition in London Somerset House. After I returned to Taiwan I was offered a job as an intern to help develop the product. This was my introduction to sex tech and sensual jewellery.

Prior to working with WISP I had already been an intern, but for a much bigger, more corporate company - I felt like a little fish in a massive pond. I knew by joining a startup I could learn a whole host of new things.

What were your initial thoughts of the Sensual Tech project?

When I discovered Wan’s project, I was initially shocked. “Was talking about sex okay in the UK?” Where I grew up in Asia this was a totally crazy concept, especially as I was born into a traditional Catholic family in Taiwan, so my network of people definitely didn’t talk about it. I’d say I’m a relatively shy and reserved person and this has been a pretty strange experience. I took it as a challenge to open myself to different kind of ideas and thoughts.

When I researched the sex toy industry during my free time in my university workshop studio over in Taiwan, I got many curious looks from my peers. Nevertheless, I responded with absolute professionalism. This journey opened up the way I understood the stigma and taboo around this topic in society - and I couldn’t help wanting to know more.

What did you discover?

I found the body’s sensory system totally interesting, particularly the separation and relationship between sensuality and sexuality.

Something that really stuck with me, though, was that when we started putting on workshops for user feedback, quite a lot of girls who joined mostly came with the traditional views I mentioned, and most commonly that women’s bodies are a tool to pleasure men. This is unfortunately a powerful thought in Asian culture.

I discovered female empowerment, and wanted to share with my culture that a woman should have control over own sexuality.

How do you feel empowered as a woman working in design?

Where industrial design is statistically made up of more men, (of course in recent time this is becoming more equal), when more women entering this field, you see more attention to detail, new perspectives, with more warmth, softness and different angles.

As a woman in design, I understand that by tuning in and using my different senses I can offer different view - and just knowing that we can do more is empowering in itself.

The funniest thing I experienced, which may seem contrary to common debate, is when I’ve been the only girl in the room, men have listen to me as offering a unique perspective. Of course, this only counts if the respect is there - and the men I met have had respect and listened to what I had to say in those circumstances working in design.

Which women have inspired you?

My mum. She just took care of us, our entire family, her husband, all my grandparents and even great grandparents - with absolutely no complaints. No matter what she did, she put a lot of thought and effort into it.

She taught me that I was important. Just do the best you can and trust yourself. I certainly feel empowered and inspired by the wisdom she gave me.

She is an open minded woman. I was the first to not study the sciences in my family. My sister is a doctor of Psychology and my brother is medical management in a hospital. I’m the odd one out in my family. I’m glad my mum let me do what I wanted - she trusts me a lot.

What advice do you have for other women getting into design?

Essentially, make sure you visit lots of exhibitions. Ask those who are interested in the same topics as you and just totally immerse yourself. Be curious.

Why do you think having a conversation around sex and sensuality is important?

Over in Taiwan, during design conferences specifically, we have to be very careful about language as we can’t talk about sex. Whereas. UK and USA seem to be more open minded. I wholeheartedly think this conversation is important for everyone, especially because so many people don’t understand it.

Recently I saw video talk on YouTube, of a Taiwanese man - “if we don’t teach younger men about sex, then they will only learn it from the internet - so why don’t we teach them in a open and healthy way”.

Currently we are fighting for sex education in elementary school (oldest grade & junior high) and gay marriage (following a Constitutional Court ruling, Taiwan became the first nation in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage on May 24 2019.

When you aren’t old enough you can’t figure out what is right or wrong via the internet. So having a conversation around sex and sensuality is important for people to understand themselves and encourage a sex-positive attitude.

Where do you see the future of design in Sensual Tech going?

I think there will be more designers jumping into this “new” area of Sensual Tech. In industrial design, the market is full. People are over designing industrial tech. Branching out is a great way to grow.

More creative technologies are already coming out, designed to progress human existence and our interpersonal interactions.

Right now, for example, we are focusing on women’s sensuality which is totally important for female empowerment, and perhaps, as men don’t currently have the vocabulary to talk about sensuality, who knows where Sensual Tech for men will go.

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