There are many reasons to admire George Nelson. For a pillar of the mid-20th century US design establishment, he had an unusually enlightened interest in the social, environmental and human impact of design. He championed the work of more gifted friends, like the Eameses and Buckminster Fuller, and lent the latter a desk in his New York studio whenever he needed one. I even quite like his Bubble lights. But Nelson also had his flaws, and his 1960 short film “How to Kill People” is among them. It consists of a 24-minute soliloquy, which he begins by arguing that devising lethal weapons is one of the three roles in which design enjoys the “unquestioning support” of society--the others being home-making and fashion. Nelson then delivers a lively potted history of weaponry design, illustrating his points by brandishing a rock, a club, and other suitably menacing props. MORE

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