Design solves problems is one reason the field is so attractive. It was a reason I started studying it too. But I vividly recall the 2007 GOOD magazine cover where an AK-47 gun confronted me with the fact that “good” design could be “bad”. Such a contrary view is the subject of Design and Violence (2015), a print record of an originally online platform started by Paola Antonelli and Jamer Hunt. In 2013, they began uploading designs related to violence—defined as “a manifestation of the power to alter the circumstances around us, against the will of others and to their detriment”—and inviting commentators from a wide variety of disciplines to reflect on each. Online public discussions were encouraged too. Besides the expected, such as weapons and prisons, the project investigates lesser known ways of violent design. For instance, a ramp for killing cattle in a “humane” manner, genetically-modified rice that has strained ecosystems and applying design thinking in war. While the project focuses on facilitating discussion rather than making a stand, it is a painful reminder that design is good… for violent ends too.
#ADesignLibrary spotlights lesser known design books, and invites public access to my personal collection of titles that focuses on Singapore architecture and design, Asian design, everyday design, critical and speculative design as well as design theory and philosophy. I welcome inquiries and physical loans.