The University of Kent School of Architecture brief asking students to design a torture device (DW 21 February) could be perceived as an aid for understanding design, as well as being offensive. A study of such a topic should be based on the historical context of torture devices. The students should learn about the cultures in which such devices were used and the role they played in society.
I do not see anything wrong with studying torture devices as antiquities. If the project encourages innovation regarding new torture devices then this would be offensive. However, I do feel that the students’ time could be used to design much more useful things, such as sustainability.
Stacey Dix, Product designer, Hamleys, London W1