Sated Design welcomes a business boom during lockdown

With the UK reportedly heading for a recession, there’s one industry that appears to be bucking the trend. Sales of sex toys went through the roof during lockdown and job retention schemes have provided many with time and space to take stock and make plans for the future.

These two factors have meant business is booming for one Devon-based company that specialises in designing adult toys and pleasure products for manufacture.

Sated Design have been assisting adult sex toy companies develop quality and innovative products for over a decade, many of which have gone on to win coveted industry awards. Their list of clients range from large international companies, SMEs and lone private inventors.

The team is headed by Director Chris Howsam who has an extensive career in product design spanning 35 years. Operating from his office in Teignmouth, Chris and his team of designers offer a range of services to those looking to develop the next best sex toy product.

Chris explains “what we do at Sated is quite unique. A sex toy has an intimate and personal context that makes them unique to each user. The designer has to be tuned in to the unique ergonomic and psychological aspects of a sex toy and the way in which the user interacts with it. For every new innovation in our lives there will be someone thinking about adapting it into a sex toy!”

He continues “since lockdown in March, we’ve seen an increase in enquiries from lone private inventors with an idea for a new product. We’ve also had enquiries from companies who have a product range already but used their time in lockdown to review what they offer. Coupled with this has been an increase in web traffic to our site sateddesign.com which is up 30% for the same period last year”.

There have been some outstanding innovations over the past years. Products are now more stylish, safer, cleaner and easier to care for then ever before. This has resulted in increased sales globally. Sated Design have been at the forefront of these changes, often pushing the boundaries with complex mechanical design and aesthetic styling.

Chris is often asked what advice he would give to an aspiring inventor, starting out in the world of sex toy design.

His response is always “Keep an eye on the latest advances in manufacturing, electronics, materials, and trends because all of these can be the catalyst for great ideas for sex toys. Don’t be shy and don’t be afraid to try things because if you want to improve people’s well-being and enjoyment of life through sex toys you design then you might learn a few things for yourself along the way.”

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Living in the new normal

The way we live and the way we go about our work, day to day has slowly eroded the quality of life for many and undeniably had a negative impact on the environment. In our last news article we touched on what a post-lockdown world could be like if everyone takes the time now to consider where their priorities should lie both at a personal and at a professional level.

After much discussion between all of us this is how we have embraced the new normal. The biggest change for us has been the relocation of some of our staff as a result of social distancing measures. There were some teething issues to do with the UKs inability to balance upload and download speeds in rural areas but we soon had everyone adapting to a new way of working.

In the office we have made changes including staggered breaktimes, availability of PPE and become more aware of not gathering around the printers etc. For those that work from home there has been an improvement in the work/life balance and with the assistance of modern technology, it is possible to liaise between those who need to come into the office and those who can work from home to maintain what is essentially a normal working week. With clients based across the UK and overseas, we were already geared up for remote conferencing and real time on-screen CAD viewing to discuss projects so it is unlikely clients will note any difference.

We think it is important to talk about what we have done because providing guidance and support to our clients, is a large part of our work as product designers. If we can practice what we preach and show resilience as a business, offer sustainable alternatives, cost saving measures and a more beneficial way of working, we can encourage these businesses to look at their own work priorities. We hope this would inspire them to look at how they too can embrace the new normal.

What else can we learn about the new normal as product designers and how do we respond?

The designer and the client have a responsibility to be mindful of the end use of the products they collaborate to design. With many goods in shorter supply and retailers also in lockdown, many consumers have utilised their right to repair and shown great intuition to fix what they have. Unfortunately for many years the right to repair has not been something manufacturers have wanted to support and the opportunity to repair products is limited mostly by having no spare parts available. If there was a mindset to create products that are intuitive to fix this would help combat our ‘throw away society’.

Now is a great time to open discussions and champion this approach. We believe this is a crucial role for Product Designers and manufacturers to address on a global scale.

If you are about to embark on a new product development and would like more information about how you could benefit from our insight, please contact us today.

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The Lockdown Lowdown – Part 3

Managing Director Chris Howsam shares his thoughts about the lockdown.

For many years I have maintained a fully functioning office at home complete with CAD and secure access to all our files and documents. I can’t remember when this was not the case as it has been driven by the needs of planning projects, dealing with admin and working with clients/suppliers in different time zones. Having video conferences at 3am to look at tooling in China or talking to clients in far flung places at 9pm is quite normal and part of the day to day challenge of delivering our product design services. The challenge of Coronavirus now means that a home office is crucial for many of us. In my case I am sharing my time between home and the office. Work that can be done at home is done there but work that needs to be hands on with parts must be done in the office. There are of course the usual items of post and parcels that need to be dealt with, many of them necessary to maintain the running of the business.

Within Sated Design we now have some staff working from home and some working in the office. By liaising between those who need to come into the office and those who can work at home we maintain a normal working week. Thank fully, the office space and workshops are large enough that we maintain social distancing. Unfortunately, we don’t have the same buzz in the office because of the reduction in conversation and bustle of people moving about it feels a little odd, almost like working on a weekend. Gadget and Gizmo (the office dogs) must think everyone is on holiday!

Everyone here has adopted to the new way of working without any drama and this set me thinking about what could happen once the lock down is over. I think there will be a need to redefine how many businesses operate. The changes imposed on us through Coronavirus and the lock down have added a different dynamic which will change the status quo.

Of course it will be impractical for some to work from home but there are many that could work in an office facility close to their home. The provision of more leased workspaces in residential areas and town centres created from vacant retail or office space would reduce travel costs and travel time for many. The concept of leased workspaces is not new because many business start-ups get off the ground in this way, but I see many people wanting to work nearer to home, especially after proving they can work remotely from a central office.

I believe there is something positive to be learned about how businesses are coping with lockdown and this could result in improvements to the work and life balance of many people. Do we go back to everything as it was or do we as employers and employees actively engage in discussion about what we have learnt about how we work and use it to define a better way?

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The Lockdown Lowdown – Part 2

These are very strange days indeed and like many workers I am bunkering down and experiencing the joys (and tribulations!) of working from home.

Some years ago I worked full time from home, so in a lot of ways going back to that style of working has been easy to pick up again. However, the biggest difference between then and now is that we’ve since had two kids, bringing with them much joy, happiness and a significant amount of chaos!

The main challenges facing our household when it comes to working from home during this lockdown revolve around space and time management. I needed a quiet place to set up my workstation. We have a desk in the living room, which would have been great except for the fact that it’s in a communal area and I wouldn’t get a moments peace with a pair of under-fives running around. In the end I set up a makeshift workstation in the main bedroom. It’s rather cramped and far from being the perfect solution, but at least I can close the door and concentrate properly on my work.

The other problem we have is scheduling our days so that both I and my partner can work on our respective jobs. For me as a product designer it’s relatively simple as I’m able to sit down and log on quite flexibly. My wife however is a yoga teacher and while her in-person studio classes have been cancelled, she continues to teach some lessons by livestreaming and posting pre-recorded sessions on-line. Her livestream classes are at a set time each week, so in order to have a peaceful environment in which to teach, I use our allotted daily hour of exercise time to take the kids out and get some fresh air.

Communication and flexibility between everybody at home and the team at Sated Design has been very important to make sure we all know what we can contribute, and when. This way we can all have an opportunity to continue our work sensibly, even whilst under a lot of additional pressures.

If working from home is new for you then the best advice I can give you is to treat it as you would a regular working day – have a routine, get up, get dressed etc. Set clear working times to prevent the boundaries of work and home life from blurring. If you’re able to safely, go out for a short walk before you log in can help create a divide between your personal and professional time. Do some exercise after work to help you decompress. Try to create a dedicated work area at a desk or in a spare room if you have the space. Check in with your colleagues regularly and invite them to do likewise, preferably by video if possible so you can see each other’s faces and lessen the sense of isolation. Above all, communicate with people around you to work through challenges you may face individually.

Working from home is a compromise but as a positive I do get to see my children for lunch every day and that is a very special time. And who knows, once all this is over, maybe all our ways of working will never be the same again!

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The Lockdown Lowdown-Part 1

In these current unprecedented times, many working professionals now find themselves having to juggle home working with caring for their families. So how is it possible to ensure you are fulfilling your obligations to your employer as well as those in your care? Sated Design’s Marketing Manager Holly Hollis shares her experiences so far in her role as a home worker, educator and carer.

I am a single parent, raising two young children with cystic fibrosis (CF) – a genetic condition which is life limiting. I’m no stranger to complications. CF has a habit of throwing curveballs when you least expect it and never allowing you to take anything for granted. The respiratory symptoms caused by the Coronavirus could be catastrophic to my children and so (along with 1.5 million others in the UK) they have been placed in a 12 week isolation for their own safety and protection.

As I type we are 19 days in. Since we entered our isolation here at home, many across the globe have lost their lives. Many businesses in all sectors have had no choice but to shut up shop and every school has closed its doors. No one yet knows when this will end.

It’s a very challenging time for everyone – but for home workers the biggest challenge is managing to run your home, care for your children and provide the dedication and support expected by your employer. My role in Marketing means at this critical time, it’s more important than ever that I bang the drum and make some noise for Sated Design. If we keep a presence, it not only reassures our clients that we’re still in business but it also shows potential clients how resilient we can be.

The difficulty is that at the same time I am having to be a full time mum and dad, co-ordinate a care plan, oversee and support their education and still continue to run a home. Fortunately this is where digital marketing is a great help – you can pick up where you left off at any time of the day. My working week has become 24/7 as circumstances allow but the flexible nature of it means this can be managed around the needs of my children.

They have anxiety about the change in routine. They haven’t seen their father now, apart from a wave over the gate, since this all began. They miss their friends. They are scared for those they know. My approach has been to keep them busy. Whether it be drawing a rainbow for a neighbour to put in her window, making a new tortoise house out of an old cardboard box, or planting up a new vegetable patch in our garden we are making memories. In amongst all the devastation this pandemic has caused there are still reasons to feel positive and grateful.

It’s not easy. In fact it’s proving to be the greatest challenge of my life to date. But it is achievable and employers like Sated Design should take a small bow for doing all they can to help those like me who face these challenges.

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We need a crystal ball!

So as of this week, the UK is in lockdown. The message from Boris Johnson was loud and clear – “stay safe, stay home”. In terms of safeguarding our health, this strategy cannot be questioned. If we adhere to social distancing, the virus cannot spread as effectively. But when it comes to running a business, no matter how great or how small, the results of social distancing are potentially catastrophic.

On Monday 23rd March 2020, (excepting those deemed to be ‘key workers’ and ‘key services’) the UK business community was essentially ordered to shut up shop. While the rationale for this cannot be questioned, we now find ourselves asking “for how long?”

Emerging now are details of financial support for employees and businesses but what about timescales? What we need now are some proper ‘guestimates’ from our Political Leaders as to when we can expect to be out of this crisis and begin to operate our businesses again.

What we are calling for now is the “Exit Strategy”. We are doing our bit. We are following these restrictions and supporting our government without question. Now it’s time for them to offer us some certainty and prioritise stabilising our economy.

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The potential of Industry 4.0

Much like SexTech, the manufacturing industry is on the cusp of its latest revolution. Industry 4.0 takes what was started in Industry 3.0 with the adoption of computers and automation and enhances it with networks of smart and autonomous technology that will collect large amounts of data. Through Industry 4.0 it is now becoming possible for these data systems to communicate important information about maintenance, performance and other product insights without any human interaction whatsoever. The consensus from industry experts is that the potential effects of these “conversations” on our manufacturers are huge and will ultimately result in quicker and more efficient, productive operations which will ultimately save them time and money.

The potential of Industry 4.0 is being realised by those organisations who are already adopting these smart technologies. You would not be on your own in assuming that Industry 4.0 is only realised by large corporations but the reality is that smaller enterprises will benefit too. For example, data stored in connected devices like the cloud could allow them access to technology they wouldn’t be able to have on their own.

Moving a few steps back from the point of manufacture, Industry 4.0 has the potential to impact on the entire design for manufacture process. As the Internet of Things (IoT) is realised, valuable data that can be shared on how products are used by the end users (the consumers) will influence how these products are designed and manufactured in the future. This data will be crucial for the early, embryonic stage of product design and New Product Development (NPD). It will be especially relevant to the development of adult toys and pleasure products where this data will be fully accessible through the Internet of Systems (IoS) including apps.

Industry 4.0 is still evolving. For the manufacturing industry the benefits of introducing smart machines into factories are clear. However, on a slightly less positive note, the presence of extensive data will add complexity to Intellectual Property and Design Rights. More concerningly the personal nature of the data recorded from the end users of adult pleasure products will need to be carefully managed to guard against potential data leaks. The laws of how this data will be stored and who it can be shared with will need to be carefully considered and agreed upon before Industry 4.0 becomes too firmly established in product design and manufacturing.

Paradoxically, the data potential of Industry 4.0, if made accessible, could be the catalyst to revolutionising how we operate and share best practices globally. Faced with all this new and informative data relating to performance and efficiency, wouldn’t it be great news for our planet if we were all able to learn from each other and tackle our climate change crisis collectively?

It goes without saying that sharing best practice and knowledge will help to increase efficiency of manufacturing on a global scale and as a result reduce the environmental, welfare and social impacts on our planet.

If you have a great idea for a new pleasure product and would like a little help to guide you through the journey of making it a desirable reality, get in touch today – we may just be able to help.

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R&D Tax relief for Sex Tech. Do you qualify?

Growth in Research & Development (R&D) tax relief claims totalled over £4bn last year. Introduced by the Government in 2001, the purpose of R&D tax relief is to offer tax credit benefits to those businesses who develop scientific and technological innovation across many industry sectors here in the UK. Reportedly to date, £26bn has been returned in tax relief to businesses across the nation and yet according to industry specialists the scheme is yet to be fully utilised.

Were you aware that Sex Tech is a key area where R&D claims are currently not being taken advantage of?

Without a doubt, Sex Tech is consistently producing pioneering work that would easily qualify under the R&D tax relief framework. Whether it is a new technology, stimulation technique, material or even the way these products are made, any and all new advancements tend to be leading innovation in the sector.
Presently the amount of Sex Tech companies applying for R&D is staggering low. This leads us to ask, is that because Sex Tech is either ignored or seen as too much of a taboo? Or is the onus on companies like you who might not even realise that you qualify?

In short, any UK limited company that is spending money on developing new products, or enhancing existing ones is eligible. Even if you’re not sure if your new product is possible, or you don’t know how to achieve it in practice, you could be resolving technological uncertainties and therefore be carrying out qualifying R&D.

The important thing to remember is that the Government’s accepted R&D definition doesn’t have to have been successful to qualify. If your project is ultimately unsuccessful but sought a solution, it could still be R&D. It is worth asking your accountant to look into this for you but you can also look for advice from HMRC and specialist tax advisers if your accountant is not 100% certain.

For more about R&D Relief click here.

If you’ve got an idea you want to take to market, we will assist you through your journey. Our services can include trend spotting and feasibility of a new adult toy product, ergonomic studies and reverse engineering which could all be attributed to R&D. Although we do not fund projects here at Sated Design, we have a comprehensive directory of business angels and companies who regularly invest in new businesses who wish to develop their products.

Contact us today and learn more about our services and how we can help.

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Need a new challenge?

Sated Design have started 2020 with a strong order book and are looking to continue our growth by employing another middle weight designer. We take projects from the first sketch to finished product and require a designer with a portfolio of excellent concept design and an eye for technical detail to join our team.

Requirements for this very exciting role include:

• At least two years of post graduate product design experience.

• Solidworks, Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite.

• Strong understanding of materials and manufacturing processes.

• Self-motivated, professional, and confident – You will participate in discussions with director level clients.

• Excellent communication skills – You will assist in preparing project proposals; communicate technical details to lay-people; and maintain lasting relationships with clients and suppliers.

• Prototyping skills – You will be able to develop your own solutions using a hands on approach in our workshop.

• Sourcing experience – both in UK and the Far East.

• Full UK driving license preferable.

• Must like dogs!

This role is based at the Sated Design office in Teignmouth, South Devon. This is a wonderful part of the world, and joining Hillside Product Design is a unique opportunity to develop your technical, creative, and organisational skills while enjoying a life by the sea; within reach of Exeter, Dartmoor, and Cornwall. Living in Devon is very affordable and the work life balance suits those who can work hard and enjoy clean air, countryside and blue skies.

To apply, please email [email protected] with a copy of your CV and portfolio.

Sated Design is a name used for marketing the specific expertise of Hillside Product Design Ltd in designing adult pleasure products.

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Consumers are calling for an Eco Friendly sex life

The causes of climate change are a consideration for New Product Design and Development in every industry. Seemingly one industry that needs to pay attention is the adult toy industry. The majority of adult toys are made with polymers and many use disposable batteries. Most importantly, consumers can’t (or don’t want to?) easily recycle an adult toy and so they sit in drawers for years before discretely going into landfill wrapped against inquisitive eyes. All of which contributes towards the 45 million metric tonnes of electronic waste the world produces every year.

In actual fact adult toys made from sustainable materials such as wood and glass have been in the marketplace for many years. It is fair to say that adult toys made of wood and stone predate history. If the climate goes the way many are predicting your next adult toy might just have to be carved out of a bit of wood as you sit in a cave! To avert that, an increasing number of consumers are making an effort to prevent more damage to our planet by demanding environmentally friendly products.

The adult toy industry has seen a huge growth in recent years as adult toys become more widely acknowledged as products contributing to health and well-being. In the press recently has come news that large retailers such as Sainsburys and Boots are now stocking a number of “top shelf” adult toys. At the same time, consumers are demanding ethically manufactured products. We at Sated Design therefore expect to see the adult toy market shift towards a more ethical manufacturing base and we predict new companies will come into the marketplace to exploit their know how in those areas and capitalise on the opportunity. Established manufacturers need to make sure they are not caught napping.

Consumers will demand provenance for claims made about any products that claim to be eco-friendly and ethically manufactured. Allied to this will be consumer expectation that products must still deliver the highest quality and performance. We think these will be challenging times especially when social media picks its heroes and its villains.

Do you have an idea for a new Sex Toy? Would you like a little help to guide you through the journey of making your product a desirable reality? Get in touch today – we may just be able to help you.

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