dalcon : male design but hardly intelligent

by Art Chantry ( art@artchantry.com)

this little essay isn’t really for the children or the squeamish out there. ok? be adult about this.

-recognize this? this was, for a brief moment of time, one of the most famous pieces of design in the world. isn’t it cute? it looks like a little bug, doesn’t it? and man! it sold like gangbusters. i mean how can you pass up a cute little ‘bug’ like this? it’s alomost like ‘hello kitty’! this was (by far) the largest selling IUD in history. this is the notorious dalcon shield.

AC:apparently, they were actually banned for a long time. now there is one or two available, but professionals and manufacturers are too afraid of the liability to administer them. basically, one of the cheapest, safest, most effective forms of birth control available to mankind was fuk tup™ by a design professional. elegant, eh?

this cute little bug design killed many many women. the IUD (inter-uterine device) was a form of birth control that developed in the ancient middle east. camel herders learned in ancient times that if you insert an apricot pit into the right spot in a female camel, she would not bear any young. so, it’s only natural thinking (among MEN, anyway) that the same thing would work on their womenfolk. strangely, it does. science really doesn’t know why.

as the modern medical industry began to run rampant in the hunt for mass profits, many many IUD were designed and marketed. testing showed that they were all virtually similar in the effectiveness (although those made of copper worked even better. never mind that corrosion and puncture became a problem with the infamous ‘copper 7′ IUD. but, that’s another story).


so, the result was that any fool idiot could sit down and draw up a cute little IUD design and sell it as effective and safe. the shape didn’t matter at all. it was the simple PRESENCE of the IUD that deterred pregnancy. this little IUD design was the cutest of all. what woman wouldn’t be drawn to it (as opposed to all those medical-looking nasty clinical ‘devices’ the other companies marketed?) more of these were sold than all other IUD’s put together. Dalcon made HUGE profits.

the mistake that happened in this design was not expected (because male doctors are full of hubris). the SHAPE created no problems, but that little ‘string’ was a HUGE problem.

all IUD have a sterile filament that “hangs out” to allow easy retrieval. but, all the competiton had a simple SINGLE strand in the filament. dalcon (in all their male wisdom) decided that if one worked good, two would work better. so, they simply had two strands that intertwined in a spiral configuration. twice as strong, right? twice as good?

the problem was that it allowed bacteria to travels the twirled strands up into the uterus. these bacteria are always present, but the bodies natural functions block their entry. the double strand design created a major interstate highway for the bacteria and women started dying in large numbers from massive infections. utterly horrifying.

dalcon finally figured out the problem, but it was too late. they not only went under (and rightfully so! what idiots), but the entire IUD industry dissolved. business collapsed. i know people who would still p


r to have an IUD, but can’t find anybody who would allow it. they are effective, safe and pefectly fine. but everybody got so scared off by the dalcon shield fiasco that the IUD essentially diappeared from the market.

it’s too bad. idiot male design boobs used their ‘expertise’ and power to fuck up a perfectly wonderful and cheap and safe form of birth control. you only needed to replace them annually – and that was just for precaution. in reality, they could last a lifetime without any problems. but, now they are seemingly gone forever. the money men (and the sheepish consumer) are scared to death of them. too bad.

i used to joke that, unlike (say) architecture, graphic designers can’t make things that kill people. it’s hard to imagine a logo design collapsing an burying a population. but, of course, it was a joke. graphic design CAN kill – especially incompetent graphic design.

sure is cute, isn’t it?

ADDENDUM:

AC: well, whomever designed this thing made a little cute sketch on a piece of paper and then had some industrial design group (or manufacturer) whip up a prototype to test market. whether it was a specific ‘graphic designer’ or a arrogant doctor with a sketch pad and a pencil or a nefarious evil marketing consultant working with an industrial design megafirm – really doesn’t matter. it’s still ‘graphic design’ of the basest sort that is simply designed to appeal to women as a ‘cute thing’. the real evil was the stupid decision (typically male) on the filament threads. REALLY STUPID. i doubt a woman working on it would have made that mistake.

if you look at the other designs from tht same era, you’ll see all sorts of dumb ideas – barbs, hooks, “7′s”, “T”s. springs. these are all designed to stop it from naturally ‘falling out’ (think like a fisherman!). but, there were also ovals and other non-nasty non-sharp shapes to choose as well and worked just as good, too.

why would any woman choose a barbed ‘insect shape’ over a soft smooth ‘oval shape’ is beyond me. unless you look at marketing manipulation as a sales devise.

it’s so cute!

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