How we conquer the “waste mountain”

A recent report carried out by Material Focus resulted in some astounding and deeply concerning statistics. UK households and businesses alone produce 1.45 million tonnes of electrical waste a year and un-recycled household electricals cost over £370m a year in lost materials like gold, copper, aluminium and steel. Imagine this on a global scale and you get a stark picture of just how much of a problem mounting electronic waste is. Why?

Because mining metals causes pollution and impacts weightily on climate change. Toxic materials ending up in landfill leach into water courses, soil and air and become a huge long-term problem in the environment.

The recent coronavirus pandemic is in the process of kick starting a global recession. History has shown us that during these times of hardship in the past, consumers have been encouraged to spend, spend, spend and get the economy going again.

But considering this research, we ask is that really the right or the responsible approach?

We don’t need more of the same old stuff!

In reality, what we need is the ability to buy products that are made with reclaimed material and more easily repairable in the first instance, but failing that, are made easier to recycle at the end of their life. As consumers we have a right to consume, but also a duty to be considerate consumers and effective recyclers.

There are ways that help could be at hand here. Supporting local repair services and repair cafes will assist in tackling the mounting issue of global e-waste. Imagine if those forced into unemployment during the pandemic could upskill and utilise government apprenticeship schemes to learn how products work with a view of offering a fixing service to the product users. This kind of scenario would encourage employment and tackle the issue of e-waste head on.

Manufacturers could play their part and keep stock of spare parts, making these readily available to the ‘fixers’. Designers too have their part to play by creating new products with repair in mind; considering the ease of disassembly, material separation for recycling and intuitiveness to fix.

It might all sound rather idealistic but with so many points of intervention in the materials economy, if we all take a moment to unite and look at the part we play in it, we can see where we can be a part of the solution too.

Out of sight, out of mind is not a way to deal with this problem. The coronavirus outbreak has created its fair share of tragedy but we can also see it as a catalyst for positive change and a vital opportunity to reset our relationship with our planet.

Do you have an idea for a new adult pleasure product? Would you 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 you.

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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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