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Re: Would you design for the military?

Postby JEriksson » February 3rd, 2017, 8:39 am

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I believe in that a coin always have two sides (or three, or infinite..). For example that everything good can be used for evil.
If you make the best [random killing device] then you are also very knowledgeable about the weaknesses and the best ways to counter it.
Similar to doctors who save lives could be the best at taking lives.

Living in Sweden I know that most of our weapons will probably never kill anyone. Even the countries we sell weapons to will hopefully never use them and that ethical responsibility I thrust the government with. Sweden would not be the highly developed country it is today if it were not for the domestically developed weapons in which we have gained knowledge to apply in other fields and new businesses.

Re: Would you design for the military?

Postby slippyfish » February 3rd, 2017, 12:29 pm

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I have worked on some law enforcement/security products for Safariland, and headgear for US special forces (sorry don't know exactly more about the customer). For design firms these can be very lucrative projects to land, as they measure time in "man-years" so a small firm can have a "bread and butter" client for a long time, easing the worries of overhead and payroll.

Crye Precision in Brooklyn NY does nice work; the founder Caleb Crye is a very good designer/product developer and a Cooper Union grad. I've worked in the periphery of some of his headgear projects. http://cooper.edu/about/news/after-cooper-crye-precision

On the flip side the bureaucracy is unbelievable.

I think the over-riding sentiment among people who design for the military sounds something like the values shared by the warfighters themselves, that its more about the guy (or girl) next to them in the fight, than it is about the State Dept or politicized overseas conflicts. When designing with a strict rubric of "save this person's life when being fired upon" the motivation tends to become very clear.

The Eames leg splint was designed expressly for the military.
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Re: Would you design for the military?

Postby Cyberdemon » February 3rd, 2017, 12:31 pm

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Don't forget America's favorite Naval Chair.

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Re: Would you design for the military?

Postby Dan Lewis » February 3rd, 2017, 3:23 pm

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Eames splint and the aluminum chair don't really fit the discussion -- both were done during WWII. Everyone was doing everything they could for the war effort -- there was no moral dilemma.

Re: Would you design for the military?

Postby moczys » February 3rd, 2017, 4:09 pm

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I have worked on some projects with the end customer being a military organization. None of the projects were strictly "offensive" devices, so I could somewhat justify that they could be used for protection of our armed forces as others have said.

Unfortunately, I don't really get to choose what types of projects I work on. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone here. Working for a small firm, you pretty much have to take whatever work you can, because staying flexible is the only way to stay afloat.

The type of project that I would find really uncomfortable to work on would be if I had to design a "military-grade" product for a consumer products manufacturer in the firearm industry. Some of these companies are making serious weapons and accessories that really have no viable use outside of combat situations, but they are only available to regular consumers. And they don't even attempt to hide it by marketing them toward hunting, target shooting, or personal defense. That's the stuff that scares me the most.

Re: Would you design for the military?

Postby slippyfish » February 3rd, 2017, 6:33 pm

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Dan Lewis wrote:Eames splint and the aluminum chair don't really fit the discussion -- both were done during WWII. Everyone was doing everything they could for the war effort -- there was no moral dilemma.


There was greater support for the Allied war effort among the citizens, but nationwide shortages of raw materials along with concerted propaganda contributed to that moral certainty. The Eames' arrived in Los Angeles without any contacts or business prospects. The splint was an offshoot of some plywood explorations built in their apartment. One could imagine them as a modern-day firm starving for work, and taking the first thing available. During WW2 there wasn't much else in terms of industry to design for.

Imagine seeing a Christmas card like this nowadays!

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Re: Would you design for the military?

Postby Mr-914 » February 6th, 2017, 8:31 am

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Also, there were objectors to WWII.
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Re: Would you design for the military?

Postby yo » February 6th, 2017, 6:39 pm

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Frank Lloyd Wright being one of them actually. I believe several of his Taliesin students actually went to jail for failing to submit to the draft.

Re: Would you design for the military?

Postby mo-i » February 7th, 2017, 7:06 am

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I'd love to hear his reasoning behind that, as he is one of my all time inspirational "greats" and keeps influencing me tremendously.
Guess you can either design bombers or churchs as well as a synagoge, but not all three of them.

Any Designer/ Architect known who did both? Clerical and military work?

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Re: Would you design for the military?

Postby John_Sanford » February 7th, 2017, 11:59 pm


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First off, for those attempting to draw a distinction between "offensive" and "defensive" weapons, such a distinction is essentially spurious. IF it helps you sleep better at night, good on ya, but it's a fantasy. Now, there IS purely defensive EQUIPMENT, such as body armor and the like, but again, as those who attempt to ban possession of body armor by civilians recognize, having better defensive equipment allows one to be more effective on offense.

Second, the military has a huge need for "design". Human factor consideration is massive in military "stuff". "Form follows function." Engineers focus on making it work, and then making it fit into whatever space. Lots of opportunities for designers to bring their skill, including their aesthetic skills, but because of the "engineer culture" infusing the defense, it's likely a bit rougher of a ride than in other fields.

Re: Would you design for the military?

Postby Mr-914 » February 8th, 2017, 8:34 am

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John_Sanford wrote:First off, for those attempting to draw a distinction between "offensive" and "defensive" weapons, such a distinction is essentially spurious. IF it helps you sleep better at night, good on ya, but it's a fantasy.


Totally agree.
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Re: Would you design for the military?

Postby Dan Lewis » February 8th, 2017, 9:29 am

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If, as a designer, you don't want to design for the military, no judgment, where would you draw the line as so many consumer and industrial products are used by the military. Cell phones, tablets, VR equipment, PC's, drones, footwear, backpacks, medical equipment and first-aid equipment and supplies, pens/pencils, transportation, etc., etc., etc. It's a very long and broad list and it may be impossible to identify where a product will end up. Is it even possible to be a designer, of any kind, and know for certain how and where the most innocuous product may end up?

Turing it around, would you design a consumer/industrial product that came out of the military?

Re: Would you design for the military?

Postby calebcrye » February 8th, 2017, 8:34 pm


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I proudly design and manufacture products for the US military. I do this because I believe individual liberty is one of the most fundamental human ideals, and I see the US (even with all its faults) as freedom's greatest ally (and by extension: innovation’s greatest ally as well) over the past 241 years. I view the US military as freedom's insurance policy against external threats and the US constitution as freedom's best defense against internal ones. I realize it's not PC to support the military or the constitution these days. For proof, one need only read the vast majority of the comments in this thread. You are obviously free to have these views but I question the intellectual honesty of believing we possess certain unalienable rights as humans on the one hand (freedom of speech comes to mind) and then not supporting the basic structures that ensure these rights are not taken from us. (a charter established to protect our individual liberties and a defense force sworn to protect us from foreign threats, for instance)

The question you are asking yourselves (could you allow yourself to design for the military) is an absurd one. It's like sitting in warm comfortable house asking yourselves if you could ever possibly “support” the designing of houses. Then deciding you can’t on ethical grounds but remaining in your nice warm house, cozy in your having taken a stand against the evils of construction or whatever. Your emotional coziness doesn’t mean anything. If you don't support the US having a military, how do you deserve your natural human rights that they have safeguarded for you? Imagine the US was full of “you’s” in 1941... sure there would have been cooler music and more beard wax stores, but the Axis powers would have simply taken over the free f’n world! In fact, they almost did despite our and our allies’ herculean efforts to stop them (and by “our efforts” I’m referring to over 407,000 individual service members from the US alone who gave their lives to keep you free.) The only way freedom survived those years was our and our allies’ ability to supply more smart and courageous individuals to the front lines and yes to create more and better tanks, guns and bombs than our enemies could. When it’s an objective fact that war exists it doesn’t matter if you “don’t believe in war.” Saying you are against war just doesn’t mean anything. Every sane person is against war. It’s like saying you are against crime- who isn’t? But if someone steals your car I guarantee you would still call the police. How does realizing that police are kind of critical make you a fan of crime?? We’re losing the ability to actually debate real and nuanced issues. We’ve allowed PC group-think nonsense to teach everyone they have a right to be insulated from actual dissenting or complex viewpoints. All we do now is pitch fits when we don’t get our way and socialize more PC pabulum and group-think.

I am deeply thankful that there are still men and women who voluntarily put their lives on the line to defend our imperfect but awesome experiment in human freedom. And no matter who’s in the white house, no matter what the politics du jour are, I will proudly do anything I can to help them be better prepared to defeat any enemy who threatens them or our nation. You don’t have to agree with me - that’s the beauty of what so many of our service members have paid dearly for - for now we still have the benefit of their gift; the freedom to make up our own minds.

Re: Would you design for the military?

Postby AndyMc » February 9th, 2017, 8:32 pm

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Dan Lewis wrote:Turing it around, would you design a consumer/industrial product that came out of the military?


Thats a good point, given that so many consumer innovations today were commercialised from things born out of necessity in the military. Even the first Epipen-style device was for soldiers to administer nerve gas treatment.

Without these innovations, from my quick googling, we wouldn't have (out of the huge number of inventions):
One of the first computers (ENIAC-for ballistics calculations)
GPS
Digital camera
Internet
Mobile phones? (originally used walkie talkie tech and infrastructure)
Jeep
Mass distributed female hygiene products
Duct tape
Super glue
Microwaves
Boeing 747 (long-range jet engine tech originally intended for military transport)


I have to say that I would design something that came out of the military.
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Re: Would you design for the military?

Postby WSMI » February 10th, 2017, 9:14 am


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John_Sanford wrote:First off, for those attempting to draw a distinction between "offensive" and "defensive" weapons, such a distinction is essentially spurious. IF it helps you sleep better at night, good on ya, but it's a fantasy. Now, there IS purely defensive EQUIPMENT, such as body armor and the like, but again, as those who attempt to ban possession of body armor by civilians recognize, having better defensive equipment allows one to be more effective on offense.


I was going to post something similar.

Never thought about asking this question to my father. He is a practical scientist who, among mostly non-military projects, worked on Pres Regan's Star Wars, ground based laser missile defense system, as well as spy satellite/aircraft optic systems.

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