How to make talking about sex as acceptable as talking about food for the prudish Chinese

The aim of the workshop is to seek for inspiration, narratives and directions for designing the future of sex education for the masses in China. The rationale of the workshop is to bring forward the ‘underground’ and taboo nature of sex education into broader, mainstream conversations that might become more socially acceptable.

The research is done with a view to lead towards proposals such as desirable products for parental communication, adult enjoyment and even systems and services for further communication. The outcomes are aimed at exploring these questions:

-What is the future of sex education for the Chinese?

-Are they instructions from a central government or serviced platforms to encourage casual conversations?

-How can these platforms for discussion shift the topics surrounding sex from functionally discipline into open debates and inspirations that might enhance relationships, enjoyment and even enlighten cultural consensus?


Industry Design Engineer Wenjin Yao and I wanted to see if we could make a series of progressive designs to initiate some alternatives in sex education in China. We thought that if we gathered together her knowledge of chinese pulp history and theory on cultural transfer with my curiosity of the strange desires and services for the fringe, we’d have a pretty interesting research project. I’m in China again to complete the workshop with the help of phd students at Tsinghua university.

The workshops are split into the following 3 phases:

1.   Playing with Metaphors: a light-hearted workshop surrounding clichés of relationship ‘roles’ and sexual preferences.

2.   Sensual Experiences: discussions in the loopholes of consensus in an unconventional environment under pheromones, intimate lighting and explicit sounds in a love hotel.

3.   Futures: How could sexual details in Chinese cultural histories remains help to propose future directions for a national sexual discussion?

The workshop is on Friday the 30th of March.

If you’re in Beijing and would like to be involved, please email:

Written by Lisa Ma

Lisa Ma is a Speculative Designer & Researcher whose recent work is a kind of service design with a twist. Through an ethnographic research process she explores fringe groups that are largely ignored by society. Although finding insight in the extremes is a common approach within design, the research typically tends to focus on increasing mainstream utility in some way. Lisa’s projects uniquely emerge as services that look to create functional and mutually beneficial interactions between fringe groups and the mainstream populace. Her design methods become a platform for engagement, creating radical new kinds of relationships, a sort of Community to help us explore alternative futures. Her work has lead to the creation of some surprising services, including parasitic spa therapies by cat ladies, doorstep water filtration sessions from conspiracy theorists, and historical village tours for stranded passengers by Heathrow activists. In her latest field-trip, Lisa lived in a joystick factory in China, where she explored the idea of ‘Situational Fringes’ and the modern slums. Lisa holds a Masters Degree in Design Interactions from the Royal College of Art, and a BA in Art, Design & Environment from Central St. Martins. She has worked professionally as a designer at Conran and Pentagram in London and most recently in service design for Deutsche Telekom T-Labs in Berlin. Lisa shares her adventures at, and is currently based in London.


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