In 2003, Wendy Strgar founded Good Clean Love with a focus on something she calls ‘sustainable love’. The idea that by providing natural sexual well-being products and essential educational resources, we can increase the quality and quantity of loving relationships on the planet. Often, this emphasis on love is what sets us apart in the industry. That’s why we were so excited to discover Désirables, another woman-owned intimacy company that makes luxury toys. Based out of Montréal, their founder Isabelle Deslauriers shares many of the same convictions as Wendy. Her dedication to creating functional and beautiful products stems from a similar commitment to love — self love and shared. Just in time for Valentine’s Day we had the opportunity to interview Isabelle. Read her story as we talk about the craftsmanship that defines luxury, a shared responsibility in the intimacy industry, and how to slow down sex with sensual massage.
And don’t miss the opportunity to take home one of their limited edition marble massagers. Enter now on instagram to win our signature Love Oils, Myths the organic and fixative free perfume, and a Dalia by Désirables! (Contest runs 1/30 – 2/1 )
Q: The idea for Désirables came to you at university. Could you expand upon the research project that inspired this unique company?
A: The idea for Désirables came when I had to do a project on Design and Sexuality. I realized that designers have a moral obligation towards their design and that this “accountability” was generally not present with most sex toys manufacturers. During my project, I researched a lot of different aspects of the industry and products available. Some things I studied were:
- The different experiences that customers go through when buying their toys
- The material used / available
- Basic principles of sexology
- Principles of intimacy, how people create basic intimacy, how they elevate it to the “couple or sexual stage” and how to maintain it with time and with the decrease of desire
- Neurology, how the brain interprets pleasure and how it creates the connections necessary for intimacy
- Biology, how the body acts and reacts (Funny story: this is when I learned about the ongoing debate in the scientific community about the existence of the G-Spot!)
- History of sex (mainly in the Western world, but some Eastern ideas, too!)
- Even some basic knowledge in Tantric Yoga
In the end, I found that the real issue with the sex toy industry wasn’t aesthetics, rather irresponsible composition and a lack of transparency. What shocked me the most were the carcinogenic materials used in the market (largely due to lack of legislation) and little knowledge surrounding safe intimate products.
Q: The luxury sex toy industry features many different materials ranging from crystal to stainless steel, why did you choose porcelain as your medium? How does it compare with other materials?
A: For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a certain discomfort with anything plastic. Maybe it’s the fact that it is not a renewable material, or the possibility that it may contain toxic chemicals, but I’ve always preferred products made of natural / traditional materials. So plastic was out of the question for me.
Compared to medical grade silicone, it is more versatile because it can be used with any kind of lubricant, water or silicone based. Also, with time some silicone toys lose the quality of their finish. Porcelain lasts forever and it can be warmed or cooled. The real advantage to porcelain though is the aesthetic value. Compared to Pyrex, glass, and stainless steel, it feels less medical, more human and upscale. And there is just no comparison with anything toxic or porous.
The more I researched all the available materials, the more porcelain made sense to me. In the medical field they are currently using porcelain to replace teeth or even bones because it is bio-compatible — That means that it’s so neutral that the body doesn’t react to it. Some of the other amazing qualities of porcelain include:
- Very resistant in use, it can withstand an amazing amount of pressure
- Non-porous, once it is fired in the oven this material is “vitrified” nothing can get into it
- Made from natural materials
- Very, I mean, very durable. It could last for centuries
- Easy to manufacture, (we were able to find local ceramist to craft our products)
- Can retain heat or cold, which can be practical for sex toys or massage devices
- There is a certain weight to it that reminds the customer of the quality of the product
- The look is simply elegant and gorgeous
There is only one downside to porcelain: it is sensible to shocks. While hardwood floors and carpet are more forgiving, if dropped on concrete porcelain will break. That’s actually why we created our “oops policy.” We know accidents can happen so we offer a five year warranty for all of our porcelain products. If you break it, we’ll send you a replacement free of charge!
Q: Luxury is defined by the time and effort that goes into a product. Could you describe the manufacturing process for your massagers?
A: Definitely! I remember seeing a documentary about how Luis Vuitton and Baccarat Crystals are made; the key is the craftsmanship.
Even though good design is central to our business philosophy, the manufacturing process is the secret to the quality of our products. So how are our products made? I’ll list the steps from start to finish:
We create 3D models of our massagers on the computer
- We print them on our 3D printer
- We create a set of plaster molds for every size of massager
Our ceramists put the clay into the mold and let it stand for a couple of minutes
- Every piece is cleaned with a knife then left to dry for 7 to 12 days
- Every piece is sanded
- Our logo is placed with a stamp and some black under-glaze
- The first firing will transform the now hardened clay into porcelain
- Every piece is sanded again with a finer grain to make it smoother
- We add the glaze on the back of the massager to make them glide easier on the skin
- We need to do another firing to cook the glaze and give it this “glass” look
- Every piece is checked for tactile and visual defaults
Our boxes are assembled one by one
- Our products rest on a cardboard padding covered with silk, each of which are done by hand
We then add our storage bag to the box
- Each bag is sewn by our seamstress and every finishing touch is done at our facility
- We add the 20 page booklet, that was designed and created by us
- We sign the authenticity card and seal the box
That seems like a lot but even more work went into the design process! For example, we researched the perfect fabric for our bags for months before finding the raw silk that we currently use that has the right consistency and delivers the perfect feeling when touched. Same for the finish of our box; we decided to go for a matte finish that reminds the customer of the finish of our porcelain product. I think we really distinguish ourselves with our constant effort to amaze the client on every single detail.
Q: As a culture, we rush everything- from eating to orgasming. You consciously made the decision not to use vibration for Désirables in an attempt to slow down sex, (something we’re so passionate about that we wrote an article on it). When did this philosophy come to you? Why do you think it’s important to prioritize intimacy and not just eroticism when selling sex toys?
A: It all comes back to the original problem I discovered in my early research: couples buy sex toys to improve their sex life, and ultimately the quality of intimacy with their partner. When it comes to intimacy (even with self-love), taking the time to enjoy every sensation is essential. This concept is a therapeutic technique used by sex therapists called Sensate Focusing. Put simply, it’s mindfulness applied to your sexual life. The more you connect with your sensations, the more you will enjoy them and know what you like.
And I guess, a bit like the plastic point of view, the leaning towards “slow sex” might have been inspired by my own values.
A lot of people won’t agree with us on this matter but in our research we found some evidence that vibration might have a negative effect in the long term. When used too often, vibrators can create a “plateau phenomenon” where nerve endings become used to the intensity of the vibration and previous forms of stimulation just aren’t enough. It becomes necessary to increase the intensity each time. We just didn’t want to create a product that could cause our clients problems later on. While there is no definitive findings that prove this, after learning how the brain interprets pleasure and how nerve endings work we wanted to be better safe than sorry.
Q: A word frequently used to describe Désirables is “Aesthetic”, but could you explain the purposeful functionality of your products design?
A: I am so glad that you asked this question! Most of the time people think that designers are useful only for aesthetic purposes!
But the base behind any good product has to be its functionality. A quote that our teachers used a lot and that embodies a lot of our work is: “Form Follows Function.”
Take for example our massage stones. We knew that we wanted to create a massage device that would reduce the pressure on the bones and at the same time would allow a maximum of skin contact. Skin contact is essential, because it creates the “intimacy” bond. And to give the best massage you need to be able to feel the reactions below the skin.
For the massager we also needed to create something that would fit in any hand: ambidextrous, small, big, or even with the beginnings of arthritis. We did A LOT of testing and research to achieve this shape, after that it was only a matter of making sure that we could make it aesthetically pleasing. I must admit, the porcelain really helps to bring a look that is more luxurious and high-end.
Q: I was surprised to remark that the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is one of your retailers. How did that partnership get started?
A: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts curates a lot of local artisans and they always strive to highlight new talents in the Montreal community. We were very blessed that they we looking for more “erotic” products to promote their exposition on famous photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. One of our friends, Dionoski, was kind enough to mention Désirables to the curators when she met with them to promote her erotic embroidery. The curator was almost instantly sold when we told her who our ceramist is — Mrs. Bousquet is renown across the art community for the impeccable quality of her product.
We’ll try to be in more museums in future years for sure!
Q: Lastly, any tips for a successful massage?
A: We are strong believers in creating the right “experience”, to give a good massage you need to have the right set up and mood. Make the most of using your five senses: choose a relaxing playlist, use scented essential oils, dim the lights, raise the temperature a bit, use the right massage cream…
But the most important aspect: BE PRESENT. For more tips, download our eBook on how to give the perfect massage!
Interview Courtesy of:
Born and raised in Quebec City, but living in Montréal since 2008, Isabelle is the founder and the president of Désirables Expérience Design inc. Her company specializes in creating and selling luxurious and conscious intimate accessories, all made in Montréal.