2017 New York Design Awards

spaces, objects, visual, graphic, digital & experience design, design champion, best studio & best start-up, plus over 40 specialist categories

accelerate transformation, celebrate courage, growing demand for design

Yona [DRAFT]

Image Credit : Frog



Project Overview

Health for people with vaginas.
Yona is the brainchild of a team of designers and engineers at frog design, all of whom have a vagina and shared their experiences on the receiving end of a pelvic exam. Yona is a work in progress – today a concept and conversation starter, tomorrow something much more.




Rachel Hobart, Visual Designer
Sahana Kumar, Experience Designer
Haley Stewart, Industrial Designer & Design Researcher
Fran Wang, Mechanical Engineer

Project Brief

A team of four designers at the global design agency Frog is on a mission to redesign the speculum–and reimagine what it means to go to the gynecologist in the first place. They’ve created Yona, a speculum prototype that ensures there’s no cold metal against a woman’s most intimate body parts. Along with the speculum itself, they’ve imagined solutions to other sources of anxiety during the annual exam.

Project Innovation/Need

Still, while the design resembles the specula of old, the designers came up a few tweaks to help women feel more comfortable. Yona is covered with the silicon used in vibrators and sex toys (the designers even took a trip to San Francisco sex store staple Good Vibrations for research purposes). Changing the angle between the handle and the bill from 90 degrees to 105 degrees meant doctors could operate the device further away from the exam table, which eliminated the last scooch toward the doctor–an awkward repositioning before the speculum is inserted that patients said often made them feel incredibly vulnerable, exposed, and embarrassed. And the bill itself is now composed of three leaves, which the designers say means the doctor doesn’t have to open it quite so far to get the same access.
But it wasn’t just the speculum that needed redesigning. Users told them about the dread that creeps up their spine while they sit in a crinkly paper dress waiting for the doctor to arrive.
So the designers also focused on redesigning a few of the worst elements of the annual exam. To eliminate the need for a scooch forward, which can be embarrassing and uncomfortable for patients, Kumar and her team propose that doctors add a “your butt goes here” graphic to the sanitary paper lining the patient chair.
The team also imagines a “comfort kit” with socks for when patients’ feet are in the stirrups, a weighted gravity blanket to calm them down, and a stress ball–something they imagine patients purchasing for themselves, at no cost to the health provider. The idea is due to the team’s desire to ensure that healthcare providers wouldn’t need to invest significantly more to make women’s experiences better, but it’s hard to imagine any woman deciding to purchase a kit like this before heading to the gynecologist. If doctors provided it, that might be a different story.

Design Challenge

For now, Yona is a concept and remains in prototype phase. The team is looking for development partners to bring their designs to doctors’ offices. According to Fran Wang, the mechanical engineer on the team, Yona still needs to undergo a tremendous amount of user testing and validation because it is a medical device. Then, there’s a far bigger challenge–getting Yona into doctors’ hands where it can make women’s experiences on the exam table better.

This award celebrates creative and innovative design for either a component or overall product. Consideration given to aspects that relate to human usage, aesthetics, selection of components and materials, and the resolution of assembly, manufacturing and the overall function.
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