Design and Violence



This is an exhibition of objects and systems at the intersection of design and violence. In defining these terms, we push at both their boundaries.

Violence is identified here as both deliberate harm caused to a person or thing, and as a byproduct or unintended consequence. Violence may occur in spectacular outbursts in other places, in explosions and civil unrest — but as this exhibition shows, it underpins the normal order of things in the places we live, too. The products we buy and the systems in which we participate may cause harm elsewhere and out of sight.

Design is something this exhibition finds in many places. It is not just the preserve of professionals, or found only in ‘designer’ objects. Design can be located in the most ubiquitous, ordinary actions and things around us. The exhibition identifies both the forces that help shape design, and the effects designed objects and systems have on our everyday lives. Here, too, we pay attention to unintended consequences, and to the fact that while design can do good, it can also be used to do bad things well.

Alongside these broad definitions of design and violence, we brought a third lens to bear on our selection of work for the show: that it should have something to do with ‘now’. We live in a world that is increasingly urbanised and interconnected, experiencing growing economic inequality and the migration of peoples. New forms of labour, warfare and political control are facilitated by emerging technologies. And environmental harm — especially the biggest threat of our time, climate change — is increasingly realised as the violent result of our designs upon the planet.

In this exhibition, we hope to draw connections between places near and far, between our everyday actions and their causes and consequences, and to show how violence and design can act both for and against power and the realisation of social change.

DESIGN AND VIOLENCE at Science Gallery Dublin has been developed by Ralph Borland, Lynn Scarff and Ian Brunswick and is based on an online curatorial experiment originally hosted by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and led by Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, and Jamer Hunt, Associate Professor, Transdisciplinary Design, School of Design Strategies, Parsons The New School. The project has invited experts from fields as diverse as science, philosophy, literature, music, film, journalism, and politics to respond to selected design objects and spark a conversation about them. Noting the history between the two themes, the exhibition seeks to explore the relationship between design and the manifestations of violence in contemporary society. It features works from the original curatorial selection, the DESIGN AND VIOLENCE book, plus new curatorial additions to the exhibition.

Visit the original DESIGN AND VIOLENCE website here.