FUN FACTORY 03
Cover and Backcover: Bloomy Analtoy (2007) Rain Lovering (2007)
Dildo (manual) Flexi Felix Analbeads (2006)
Vibrator (electronic) Heartbreaker G2 Vibrator (2001)
FUN FACTORY DIRK BAUER
Could you describe Fun Factory and its ambition in a few words?
and create unique top-of-the-range toys – always one step ahead of the competition that has been emerging in the market over the past three years.
Fun Factory is the largest manufacturer of high quality, aesthetic and trendy erotic toys in Europe – Made in Germany. From the start our toys have been made from medical and hypoallergenic silicone. All of them are perfectly designed and have a high range of functions. Our products break down barriers with their attractive design, and make it easier for anyone to connect with erotic toys, regardless of gender or age, but especially for women. In the 1990s, there were no women-friendly toys, so there was also no women-friendly communication about sex toys. In general men bought toys for their ladies. Fun Factory had the idea to bring sex toys to women’s hearts and into the bedroom in the form of dildos and vibrators that are totally different from the penis like toys of those early years. We wanted to bring fun, self-consciousness and self-confidence to women. Now we have a well-known brand and we are always coming up with new ideas to establish toys as a part of lifestyle. We think we are trendsetters and move the “scene” – and will keep doing so in the future. We are working on making sex toys a part of lifestyle
When and how did Fun Factory begin? What was your professional expe rience before creating Fun Factory? Fun Factory was founded in 1996 by Michael Pahl and me. We were both students in electrical engineering. After a chat with Christine Meise (then my wife), founder of For ladies, one of the first erotic shop for women only in Bremen, that the market offered no sophisticated and high quality erotic toys that really spoke to women. This “eureka!” moment unleashed a frenzy of creativity. The goal was to fill this gap in the market. We started “manufacturing” on a simple kitchen table with material we had never used before: silicone. This was a very special moment. In the 90s there were many, many toys made of jelly material, latex, toxic materials, mostly coming from Asia. Michael and I have chosen silicone because of its special characteristics: non toxic, flexible, colourful, soft, fadeless and nearly unbreakable. After a few years we became more and more experienced
with silicone – like a silicone lab. Now Fun Factory is a company that employs 85 people and you will find our toys all over the world! What were the first products you decided to sell? Did you have many models right from the start? In the beginning the first model was the Paddy Pinguin dildo. Dildos don’t have a motor inside, so they were easy to produce. We tried out different forms and figures based on animals or the Devil and Angel. Then we drove in our VW bus to the women-only and lesbian party events and spoke to the owners of female erotic shops… With the return of our investment we developed new ambitions. As we gained experience, we had new ideas for the forms and function of our toys, but always colourful and kind of funny. In 2000 we started working with vibrators, called Generation 1. Generation 1 vibrators had very simply motor techno logy and they had no ergonomic handling. So we developed the Generation 2 vibrators ourselves. The G2 vibes have ergonomic parts. In 2009 we developed the Smartvibe Generation. And this process will never stop – we always strive to top the last idea. Did you sell your own models from the beginning or did you sell existing ones? Fun Factory only sells its own models. Why did you decide to produce your own products? When you have invested significantly in gaining experience, you want to see that
Paddy Pinguin Dildo (1996)
success grow. You have more control about the processes, the material and the speed of growth, when everything is in your own hands. And we had a vision for a big brand right from the start. That only works when you take responsibility for everything – with all the inherent risks that involves at the beginning.
group. They are our hardest critics. If they say that they don’t like anything, we change it until it’s perfect. But we have to recognise that we think “design to production” because not every idea is easy to produce – for the moment. But if there are technical innovations we try to use them in our vibrators.
Do you have your own factory?
Fun Factory has over 85 employees. Could you describe the different jobs required to make Fun Factory work?
If you have a good idea for a new product you have just two possibilities. Produce it by yourself or let it be produced by someone else – it is a make or buy decision. Manufacturing our own products has a lot of benefits. First of all you can obtain the highest profits. The other thing is that you retain all the knowledge relating to design or technology. The latter argument is an emotional thing, because it’s your own idea, your “baby” and you don’t want to give it away. At Fun Factory we have short communication lines. So we see immediately what we decide and we are able to act or react flexibly to market requirements. Could you describe the workflow of making a sex toy? First of all you have the idea of a designer, proprietor, be it a man or woman. In our management team we discuss how to handle the new design and look for solutions. The function, quality and ergonomic aspects are crucial in taking the right decision. The most difficult thing is to create a new control unit with new technology, for example smaller parts and more functions. After creating the prototype the toy is tested by our exclusive user
Among the 85 employees, 50 work on different stations in the production plant and about 35 people work in the administrative or in technical departments. We also work with external designers and electricians like Daniel Düsentrieb for special product innovations. We have a very flat organisation with all functions contributing to make a successful international business. The most important thing is perfect teamwork between the different divisions. Do you work with in-house designers? Is it hard to find designers who accept designing sex toys? Yes, we have one designer in-house and a few external designers. For us it’s not hard to find new designers. Because the issue is very hot in the design scene. We have a lot of designers who are inter ested in working together with Fun Factory because it has something of revolutionary and young feeling, free from all conventions.
Fun Factory toys production line Conception & design, drawing, clay modeling, silicone toy.
You won a red dot design award thanks to DeLight in 2008. What did that change for you? The red dot design award opens a lot of doors for new contacts to the international designer scene. For sure Fun Factory captured a new audience and attracted big interest, because it’s an absolute new way to handle the sex-toy issue. People could see that sex toys do not need to look the same all the time. We always look for new contacts in the art and designer scene. And everyone who has contact with us is assured of our seriousness and our professional appearance. Do you work with famous designers? Did they accept easily to design sex toys? Currently we work together with Karim Rashid (shop system designer for our new concept store in Berlin and toy designer) and Boris Hoppek (international graffiti artist). Our product manager Simone Kalz contacted a lot of wellknown international designers after winning the red dot design award for DeLight. Some answered, some didn’t… What are the different qualities required to make a good sex toy? A good sex toy has to fulfil all expectations in its function: It has to stimulate the right zones of the body. So we work with ergonomic basics. On the other hand, we have to think “design to production”. In general the result of all our efforts has to be enthusiasm on the customers’ side. Then we have made a perfect product!
DeLight Lay on-Vibrator (2007)
How long does it take to launch a new sex toy? For example the DeLight took 2,5 years from the idea to marketability. This is a good average, also for other toys which are totally new. In December 2009 we launch the Cobra libre or the first vibrating toy exclusively for men. We have worked on this complete new product for two years. Dildos are much easier to produce. From the idea, via the mould, including packaging, it takes only 4 to 6 months. I can guess that you always try to improve your products, to make the quality better. What do you focus on to improve Fun Factory products? Do you keep an eye on scientific innovation; do you use material in other way than initially intended? Do you get inspira tion from medical products, prosthe sis? Do you work with chemists and scientists? Yes, we keep an eye on scientific developments, especially in electro nics and Elastomere processing and also with adhesives. But we don’t have a special relationship with any chemists or scientists. Do you work with sexologists, gynae cologists or midwives to create new forms and improve your products, in order to have a better understanding of the needs and wishes of your clients? Our products are not medical products. The focus is to make products which provide pleasure, fun and confidence. But for example the Smartballs are developed
Smartballs original (2004)
in working together with midwives and we have gynaecologists, pharmacies and midwives who sell our products. Sex business is usually a male busi ness, but Fun Factory clients are mostly women. Is the design of your products a way to capture this new audience? For us women are not “new audience”. Since the beginning, women and couples were our target groups. Our corporate design and communication is womenfriendly – from text to picture. Women realise very clearly, that we have this special form of communication with no porn attitudes, but lifestyle. For us the launch of the Cobra libre – our first vibrating toy for men – is a complete revolution – with all the inherent consequences, like advertising to male clients, for this sensational toy. But we will also launch it as a lifestyle toy – for the ambitious man. The Cobra libre is the answer to many, many questions we received from men who like our design and quality! A few years ago, sex toys and erotic stuff were hidden away in the cupboard. Now, your products present a high level of design, a very large diversity of forms, many colours are available, some of your products have a strong humorous aspect (dildos in shape of penguin or sea-lion, mole, worm or dolphin vibrators…). Do you think that, thanks to design, sex toys could become a mass product? The varied and attractive design is certainly the right step, because you are able to catch a general audience. For us toys are a mass product. We
sell more than a million per year worldwide. But we like to see them more and more in lingerie shops, pharmacies, drugstores. Also the food retailing industry has a big potential – consumers like big shopping malls offering a big range of products. It should be easier to talk about sex toys and buy them in public areas – with no taboo. So you have to “qualify” people in materials, functions of a toy. People like fun for free, but good sex toys have their price. Fun Factory has a very good pricequality ratio. You said that Fun Factory products belong to lifestyle. How did they swing from erotic business to lifestyle area? Feeling comfortable and enjoying life is very close to having a fulfilled sexuality. Sex/eroticism is becoming more and more comfortable with lingerie and fashion. The way you sell your products also reveals new habits. Fun Factory products are available online through your website, and also in shops, but not exclusively sex shops. Could you explain your marketing strategy? Our partners in the market are our retailers. They mostly have the initial and most intensive contact to the consumers. But we also sell online and you will find our products also in party plan organisations worldwide. We like also to see our products in gift shops, lingerie shops. We really enjoy opening new markets for our lifestyle products.
In-house manufacturing of the Fun Factory products.
Patchy Paul Vibrator (2001) LAYAspot Lay on-Vibrator (2004)
Fun Factory is a German company and makes “Made in Germany” products, which is a sign of quality. However, sales are not limited to Germany and Fun Factory products are sold world wide. What share of your sales is for the export market? How do you make your products known aboard? Between 60% and 70% of sales are in the export market. We have distribution partners in nearly every country. And they get information from us to inform the press and consumers in other ways. Do you launch new products every year or do you just wait to invent something new to produce it? We will launch a few new products at the Venus trade fair based on “Click n’Charge” technology. And for the first time in the history of Fun Factory we will launch a men’s toy – the Cobra libre penis stimulator. We try to launch 2 to 5 products with new design and techno logy every year. How many products do you currently have in the Fun Factory catalogue? The Fun Factory range comprises about 150 different products including our love yourself! body care line. Which product is your best seller? We have a few products that perform very well, but the Patchy Paul in apple green is our best selling product. Then come Semirealistic mini-vibes and LAYAspot in different colours.
Which product are you most proud of? DeLight because of its fantastic design and function and Patchy Paul because he is our icon – he’s a cult figure, his nice and cute appearance helps users get over their inhibitions. Does fashion have an effect on your products? Yes, the trend is moving from animal shapes to more elegant forms. The colours are based on fashion trends. What is your annual turnover? In 2008 it was 15 million euro. We don’t yet have the figures for 2009. Do you think that, thanks to the design of your products and the way of selling them, you have contributed to a sexual revolution? I think that we changed the way of thinking about sex toys as a part of lifestyle. We set a trend with quality toys and serious communication about sexuality and sexual needs, combined with a big “Fun Factory”: If you love yourself you are able to love others. The consumers feel that we produce our toys with heart and soul. The consumers trust in our brand and experience. We know that we are on the right path, because more competitors have emerged over the last two years. That’s the reason why we always want to be one step ahead and have our eyes and ears open to the needs of consumers.
Cavalier Analtoy (2007) Bandito Dildo (2007)
PUBLICATIONS 01 CHRISTOPH NIEMANN Illustration 02 MICHEL MALLARD Creative Direction
PUBLISHER Design Friends COORDINATION Silvano Vidale LAYOUT Silvano Vidale INTERVIEW Céline Coubray COPY EDITING Duncan Roberts PRINT Imprimerie Centrale PRINT RUN 500 (Limited edition) ISBN 978-99959-625-2-4 PRICE 5 € DESIGN FRIENDS Association sans but lucratif (Luxembourg) BOARDMEMBERS Silvano Vidale (President) Arnaud Mouriamé (Vice-president) Nadine Clemens (Secretary) Mike Koedinger (Treasurer)
Fun Factory Love yourself 18 November 2009 6.30pm Mudam Luxembourg
This catalogue is published for Fun Factoryâ€™s lecture at Mudam Luxembourg on November 18, 2009 organized by Design Friends.
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