The recent Play-Doh icing extruder fiasco (Whoops, Play-Doh Toy Looks Exactly Like A Penis) is a great example of product design gone wrong. It may have started out as an innocent toy marketed towards children, but in the experienced eyes of an adult, this toy shape takes on a completely different meaning. An icing tool is not just an icing tool – batteries excluded.
I can sympathize with both sides of this debate. However, since adults make the buying decisions when it comes to toys for their children, we as designers and illustrators need to consider the various possible interpretations or misinterpretations a shape can take.
Illustrators also need to know the audience they are marketing to is parents first, young children second. Otherwise, things can go terribly wrong as noted in 19 unintentionally disturbing moments from kids’ books. I’m sure these books started out with great intent, but adult interpretation obviously wasn’t taken into consideration prior to printing and marketing them.
So to caution against misunderstandings, should bananas, zucchinis and carrots be banned from children’s books because they are potentially phallic in nature? Where does one draw the line? And where does misinterpretation become an opportunity for education and dialogue? This week's illustration is in response to these questions. It was also submitted to Illustration Friday for the theme of Passion.