Design and Violence

Paola Antonelli, senior curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA, begins her talk at the DLD Conference about Design and Violence by discussing how contrary to what many designers want to hear, design can be used not only for good, but for evil. Antonelli discusses the shock she felt when she saw the first 3D gun. She goes on to talk about how design can help us understand violence.

Designs like Mine Kafon show the stark contrasts and incongruencies that exist. At first glance, Mine Kafon exhibits beautiful objects with a meditative and radial balance assemblage. Then we learn that it is a film about the prevalence and horrors of land mines along with a solution to help clear them.

Another recent post, “Hacked Protest Objects (Anon),” features everyday objects that have been “hacked” to take on a different role—one involved in protest and violence. Innocuous objects like toilet bowl brushes and common household cleaning supplies are raised in arms.

Projects are grouped into categories such as Hack/Infect, Constrain, Stun, Penetrate, Manipulate/Control, Intimidate, and Explode. Experts from all fields are invited to respond to the design objects and engage with readers. The experimental web project asks questions like, “Is execution always ugly?” Or, “Is euthanasia an act of violence or an act of compassion?”

The goal of the project is to create a conversation about the relationship between design and violence, and in that process gain an understanding of the complex relationship that design has in the role of violence in contemporary culture.

Go ahead and take a look at the much less discussed side of design—see if you have the stomach for it. It’s a very provocative and relevant conversation.


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