The talents of creatives are wanted to make safe sex sexier through the design and marketing of a new type of condom.
Latex condoms are out of date. Researchers aim to create a better feeling condom material made from tough hydrogels.
This year over 27 billion condoms will be sold, but still not enough are being used. A New South Wales study found that 86% of young people in relationships don’t use condoms every time they have sex, aking them vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases.
It’s not just frivolous youth who are reluctant to use protection. Condom usage in casual relationships is lower in older couples, due to a lack of education and a false assumption that protection is unnecessary after menopaus.
From Australia to Africa, research has found that the number one reason for the lack of usage is that condoms are viewed as reducing pleasure.
Undertaking the challenge of shifting the perception of having to wear a condom to wanting to use one, researchers at the University of Wollongong in Australia are working on Project Geldom to develop a new type of material for the next generation of condoms.
With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – which will give a $100,000 grant to anyone with credible plans to make a condom that ‘is felt to enhance pleasure’ – the project involves developing condoms made from innovative materials to improve feeling and increase regular use.
Condoms have been around since the Romans used goats bladder but the last major innovation was the invention of the latex condom almost 100 years ago. Allergies, breakages and perennial complaints about lost sensitivity remain issues.
Project Geldom is researching and testing a solution in the form of a water-based hydrogel that will have no allergic reactions to the skin and could potentially be made into thinner, more stable, more durable condoms that are completely bio-degradable.
‘In reimagining the condom, we aim to create new hydrogel-based condom concepts that answer the specific challenges in our targeted communities, by providing a design that excites and motivates use.’
With a strong focus on design driven innovation – a collaborative process that brings together design strategy, human-centered research and social innovation principles – the project has partnered with the Centre for Design Innovation at Swinburne University.
It is hoped that the combination of the new material and innovative design will help encourage use of the contraceptive, particularly in the regions of South-East Asia and Africa.
To encourage designers to share their ideas, Swinburne has created an international design competition with two categories open for submissions: young designers under the age of 35 years and design students currently enrolled in tertiary education.
Entrants must look at all aspects of design including product and brand development, and packaging and communication design. The brief invites designers to submit a visual around packaging, branding, advertising and promotional material to communicate safe sex in South-East Asia and Africa.
The winner in each category will receive prize money of $3500 with the runner-up in each category to receive prize money of $1500, with the entry closing date July 31, 2015.
Swinburne Course Coordinator for Industrial Design Gianni Renda, said that the judging panel would like to see entries that stand out compared to what’s currently in market and which offer a fresh take on branding and packaging.
‘We are undertaking research into existing condom packaging and branding and we hope this competition will help further our knowledge,’ Renda said.
Emphasising innovative and culturally appropriate designs, judges will look for designs based on local cultural preferences that influence people’s perceptions of condoms and tackle the issue of lack of use.
‘There are still parts of the world that are not purchasing and using condoms for many different reasons. It would be great if the packaging and branding tackled this issue,’ concluded Bridgette Engeler Newbury, Swinburne Course Coordinator for Communication Design/ Business.