At least they know a good design when they see it

At Barnes and Noble, Coronado Center, ABQ last week, this cover art jumped out at me:

It's a magazine that appears to have the production values and artistic sense of Wired, but concentrates on "doing good." Have a look for yourself, by all means.

From the article:

The problem is that “good design” didn’t look much beyond the object itself. An AK-47 rifle, for example, makes use of sound and appropriate materials and it demonstrates other criteria of good design, such as solid workmanship, efficiency, and suitability of purpose . . . the AK-47 is a classic in the annals of good design (it also happens to be most popular firearm in the world). But the question then is: good for what and for whom?
Well dammit, design shouldn't look beyond the object itself. The object serves a purpose. People give purposes to things.

People give purpose to themselves, or they glide through life without purpose at all. Which is the more destructive? This includes the devout, who no doubt will claim that a purpose was given them by the Savior---for purposes of this post, I consider them to have sought and chosen their purposes.

The Kalashnikov rifle is designed to do a given thing, and its design must be evaluated in terms of how well it does that thing. Good's writers understand and agree that it did indeed fulfill its purpose well. They merely disagree with that purpose.

From the X-ray, I can't tell whether they have an AK-47 or an AKM. I don't see rivets, I don't see the outline or the meat of the rear trunnion for the under folder. No cleaning rod running through the forearm, where an X-ray would show it starkly in contrast to the wood or polymer forearm, and the steel insert in the forearm's barrel channel. The pistol grip shows as much density as the thin walls of the receiver or the solid chunk of the front trunnion.

I'd put a Starbucks venti on the notion that this art isn't an X-ray photograph at all, but an artist's rendering of an AK from a field-stripped parts diagram, massaged to look like an X-ray, to suggest that they've really looked at how an AK is put together. "See inside! Ewwwww!"

Appreciation of good design doesn't stop at how well the device serves its application, but delves into how it is made, the meta-design if you will: this machine was made to be made cheaply.

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