Design and Violence


Temple Grandin, 1974

Humane slaughter

Animal rights activist and scientist Temple Grandin created the serpentine ramp to ensure the humane treatment of cattle. The first ramps that Temple designed, in 1974, were used during vaccinations and within the same year, for slaughter plants. Temple designed the ramp so that it prevents cattle from being scared by the workers or the abattoir up ahead; semicircular turns take advantage of the movement cattle naturally make in groups. This exhibit attracted more heated debate and commentary than any other in the original MoMA exhibition, because of the provocative nature of its engagement with design and violence — and, the curators speculated, because humans are particularly sensitive to violence perpetrated against animals. The aim of the ramp — to reduce the suffering of animals that are destined to be killed — raises questions around complicity and amelioration in design’s facilitation of violence.

Image courtesy of the designer.