Dezeen Magazine

Ece Tan designs sex toys for cows to make farming practices more pleasurable

An insemination dildo and an udder massager feature in the Happy Cow collection of conceptual sex toys, which Central Saint Martins graduate Ece Tan has developed for bovines based on common farming tools.

At face value, the three products in the collection were designed to make invasive yet routine practices in the dairy industry, such as milking and artificial insemination, more pleasurable for the cows.

But rather than being intended for actual use, Tan says the toys are meant to serve as "critical and provocative tools" to remind desensitised consumers of the range of emotions that animals can feel.

Cow standing behind a large purple dildo
Happy Cow is a collection of speculative sex toys for cows

"The project was influenced by research on other species experiencing pleasure," she told Dezeen. "I think pleasure has mostly been conceived as a uniquely human experience."

"So it was really interesting to find out that all mammals have the potential to experience sexual pleasure."

Light blue artificial-insemination dildo from Happy Cow sex toys collection by Ece Tan of Central Saint Martins
Included in the range is an artificial-insemination dildo

The vast majority of people in the UK, around 86 per cent of the population, support the introduction of a law recognising animals' sentience – their capacity to feel a gamut of positive and negative emotions from joy to fear and pain.

But all too often, Tan argues, consumers are able to disassociate from their empathy for these emotions when it serves their needs.

Teat massager on a milking machine pump Ece Tan of Central Saint Martins
The Happy Cow teat massager is attached to a milking machine pump. Photo is by Ece Tan

Happy Cow crosses the familiar, silicone-laden design language of sex toys with the clinical industrial tools used in farming, in a bid to cut through this apathy and highlight the cruelty of industrial farming practices, which Tan says are "at the very least discomforting, if not painful" for the animals.

"The visual and material language of these adult toys is recognisable to humans, making the experiences of the cows somewhat more tangible for us," she explained.

"By removing the distancing, this project aims to bring the experience of cows to a human level of understanding."

Light blue artificial-insemination dildo from Happy Cow sex toys collection being held up to a cow's rear
The dildo is designed to be slipped over an artificial insemination gun

Each of the toys is based on a procedure that cows are subjected to at a typical dairy farm and the relevant tool needed in the process.

A huge, ribbed dildo is designed to fit around the artificial insemination guns that are used by farmers to impregnate cows.

This involves semen being collected from bulls using electro-stimulation or an artificial vagina, before being injected into the females to keep them consistently pregnant and producing milk.

To make the milking process itself more enjoyable, Tan has designed a teat massager that can be attached to traditional vacuum pumps to provide a gentler sensation and protection for the udder.

Finally, the latex examination gloves used for veterinary checks and during artificial inseminations are reimagined with added texture, ribbed – much like condoms – for added pleasure.

Ribbed latex examination glove Happy Cow sex toys collection for cows
Latex examination gloves are reimagined with ribs. Photo is by Ece Tan

"If these products were to be adopted at face value, there would definitely be a risk of justifying industrial farming practices or even making them trendy," Tan said. "I could imagine a new 'pleasure-certified farming' label to assuage people's guilt."

"On the other hand, we are already justifying these practices, so maybe it wouldn't be so terrible to make them more pleasurable if we will continue as we are. It is an ethical pickle."

Purple dildo for cows by Ece Tan of Central Saint Martins
All of the products integrate silicone in a nod to traditional sex toys

Happy Cow is among a number of projects from the Material Futures course at London's Central Saint Martins to be featured on Dezeen.

Other recent graduates from the course include Mireille Steinhage, who has created an "affordable and sustainable" solar blanket, and Arina Shokouhi – creator of the low-impact avocado alternative Ecovado.

The video and photography are by Maël Hénaff unless otherwise stated.