Ep. 58: Ti Chang

Industrial designer Ti Chang is co-founder and creative director of Crave, a start-up dedicated to innovative and elevated sex toys. Originally from Taiwan, as a child Ti moved with her family to the U.S. and grew up feeling out of place in small-town Georgia. Loneliness had its upside though; less friends, more creative time! An independent thinker and brave warrior for female empowerment, she’s on a mission to eradicate shame and guilt, and believes all women should own their pleasure. Amen, sister!

 Photo by Catalina Kulczar

Photo by Catalina Kulczar

What is your earliest memory?

My mother bringing me to the Taiwanese Natural History museum where she worked as a curator and being surrounded by exhibits, taxidermy, plants, and history.

How do you feel about democratic design?

I wholeheartedly embrace quality design made accessible to everyone.  It is what my current design work is about, what I strive to do with my products. I believe it is at the core of what good industrial design should be. However that is not to say that there is not a place for aspirational design, which is just as valid because we all need to dream.

 Young Ti and family

Young Ti and family

What’s the best advice that you’ve ever gotten?

“Complaining is draining, excuses are useless” - Willam Belli, drag queen

If you don’t like something change it, if you can’t change it, don’t complain about it. The energy it takes to whine and complain can be better directed. I am an intense doer, I show what I care about through my actions and what I spend my time doing. For example I wanted to have a community for women in industrial design in San Francisco, but there wasn’t one. So instead of complaining to IDSA or just complain in general, it was exactly this thought that propelled me to create SF Meetup for Women in Design 5 years ago. Today it has almost 400 members and I have an incredible network of women in ID who help support each other.  

How do you record your ideas?

Pen and journal, if digitally Apple Notes.

 Examples of Ti's previous design work including Goody hairbrushes

Examples of Ti's previous design work including Goody hairbrushes

What book is on your nightstand?

Since I have been travelling so much lately I prefer audio books, I work on a few at a time - I just finished Brene Brown: Braving the Wilderness. It is an exceptional book to find courage to thrive when perhaps one’s belief is not the norm. For a physical book, I just discovered milk and honey by Rupi Kaur, I don’t usually like poetry but the raw simplicity of Kaur will seriously cut you to pieces.

Why is authenticity in design important?

Authenticity is important because it is what we all desire in our lives, it is what we strive for in our selves and it is what we want to surround ourselves with. Ain’t nobody got time for fakeness.

 Vesper vibrator necklace

Vesper vibrator necklace

Favorite restaurant in your city?

A Taiwanese restaurant (outside of San Francisco) called Joy Restaurant  in Foster City - it is fantastic for large groups of family and friends, and best of all, NO RESERVATION REQUIRED.

What might we find on your desk right now?

I don’t have a traditional desk right now. I am working out of #CraveDesignFactory a 1961 converted Airstream that is my design studio as I travel across USA- which is where I am sitting as I am typing this. I have my Brixton hat, phone, sunglasses, and a bottle of water.

 Vesper family

Vesper family

Who do you look up to and why?

I tend to look up to people who overcame obstacles and dare to live out loud and usually with a wicked sense of humor. Drag queen Willam Belli, comedian Trevor Noah and writer Christopher Hitchens, and my mother to name a few. Humor, in my non-scientific opinion, will help you live longer.

 Crave on tour!

Crave on tour!

 Interior of the mobile Crave design factory

Interior of the mobile Crave design factory

What’s your favorite project/product that you’ve done and why?

My favorite product so far is Vesper vibrator necklace- as a designer one can only hope to have a product that is both conceptually and commercially successful. Often, a product is either conceptually interesting but a commercial dud, or vice versa. Vesper has managed to be both and most importantly there is a social aspect that changing perceptions of pleasure. It is a product that is constantly creating conversations around pleasure because it a product that has both a public and private presence. As a necklace it is being worn to dinner, brunch and clubs and it is quite a conversation starter. We hear from our customers that it feels “naughty” and “empowering”. That said, I don’t believe a woman has to wear a vibrator out to feel empowered, so the necklace is removable so that it can be kept at home as a slim, compact vibrator. Some women are empowered by modesty some are empowered by nudity. There is no right way.  What I love about the Vesper is that as a concept it is about openly embracing pleasure as part of our identity without shame and stigma.

 Wink+ vibrator family

Wink+ vibrator family

What are the last five songs you listened to?

  • Be Careful - Cardi B
  • Bad Things - Machine Gun Kelly & Camila Cabello
  • Make me Feel - Janelle Monae
  • Coastin’ - Zion 1
  • Easy - Sky Ferreira

Follow Ti's latest designs at lovecrave.com, and her on Twitter @DesignerTi and follow Crave on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


Special thanks to Tai Navares and Alex Perez for editing this episode.
Music in this episode courtesy of El Ten Eleven—hear more on Bandcamp.
Shoutout to Jenny Rask for designing the Clever logo.