Mean machines

It’s impossible not to admire the design of the AK-47, even though just looking at this deadliest of weapons leaves you feeling morally queasy. The Russian assault rifle was created by the small arms supremo Mikhail Kalashnikov, who featured the latest combat design in his 1947 original. Sixty years on, the London-based design duo Postler Ferguson re-imagined the AK-47 as a paper kit. It comprised five A3 sheets of 150gsm, and was a fragile life-size replica of the lethal original. Now Martin Postler and Ian Ferguson have created Paper Wars, an exhibition of their Death Machines paper kits. Included is their AK-47 paper original, alongside grenades and anti-aircraft guns, plus a series of customised paper AK-47s by an international roster of designers, some of whom have modified it beyond recognition. El Ultimo Grito, for example, chunked up the gun and covered it in multi-coloured paint, like a volcanic cherry trifle, while Hiroko Shiratori used the paper components to make a tiny town that reminds you of a model railway village. ‘A place for the people when the guns have gone away,’ says Ferguson who, with Postler, graduated in 2007 from the Royal College of Art’s MA in Design Products course. By contrast, Ben Wilson left the gun intact, only covering it in gold glitter. A bling AK-47, and a chilling reminder of both the glamour of guns and the arms dealers who make fortunes from war.Paper Wars is at the Craze Gallery, Portobello Road, London W11 from 15-21 May. The first in the Death Machines series, the AK-47, was published by Die Gestalten Verlag in 2007

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