Wednesday, 17 February 2010

let me rephrase that...


Dave Gray (of XPLANE) recently used the *classic* AK-47 as an example of great design in the context of a design conference. He took a bit of flak from people for using a weapon as a positive example. It's worth reading what was quoted and the response on his blog. You can read that here.

I agree in the main with Dave's points in his reply, but that's not what got me thinking. I was simply reminded that we all have a lens through which the world is viewed. If you are anti-war/-gun/-death then the use of an AK-47 may be something you'd take offence at. It's the antithesis of your ethics, morals or taste - it's evil. It's a sign that there's little ethics in design anymore etc etc. It's. it's, it's... We miss the point that was being made and stay at our defensive position, ready to defend all who come against us.


The way I saw it was this: the gun is not something I'd hold up as a great thing. Let's be clear about that. The AK-47 is, however, a great piece of design (on the principle of what was it intended for? and does it do the job?).

I'm left thinking if the critic was listening or if Dave made his point this clearly enough. Sure, there may be a number of other examples - like the Land Rover.

But as Dave said. "It's in imperect world"


edenchanges said...

The story you relate here is a great example of poor communication. He presents an item - the AK47 - as an example of DESIGN. From that point alone should the discussions and debates be based. Is that item (removing the emotive label) a good example of good design. Given it has become the most widely used type of item in its class, copied, upgraded and ultimately fulfilling the design need that it was created for then it is an example of good design.

Either people didn't listen well or the way it was presented was unclear. I suspect thought that the emotional label of 'gun' clogged a few listeners ears.

Interesting story.


theWeir said...


Many thanks for your comment - I completely agree!

While I don't think it's right to separate design and impact from each other, we need to be able to look at something from more than one perspective.