Any one into Generative Design ?

Have to love broad brush stroke statements like this backed by what exactly?

So there not scared by new ideas as long as they have 40 years to think about it? Which one is it SK?

For context, I’d still like to know if you’ve brought any products to mass production? and if so what kinds? Just a question to see where you are basing some of these evaluations. I’ll keep posting it.

I have no idea what this means.

Incorrect. Evolutionary changes can occur in a generation or 2. Read up on epigenetics and get back to us.

Correct. Genetic evolution is random mutation. But it is most definately not orchestrated, that implies a creator. You have completely contradicted yourself.

Incorrect. Again, read up on epigenetics.

But I must say I am beginning to enjoy the irony. First you claim your software cannot give meaning to products yet you give long-winded and flawed metaphors to give your software meaning.

Its just software. Like any Photoshop filter. Big whoop.

After following this discussion I have to say that i’m not completely convinced that “Generative” design is really the answer for Industrial Designers, our process and purpose is significantly different than an architect’s process. Industrial Design does have a Generative arena, but in the sense of product evolution, well, let’s just say that things like this follow market trends, style, new technologies, politics, and socioeconomic environments. The Generative element of Industrial Design is determining and predicting how a product, brand, or solution evolves in these environments, things that software fixated on the physical item can’t replicate or generate. Designers have to give more consideration to these things because they design products typically put through mass production, architects generally don’t have to concern themselves with this because they operate in different markets on a different timescale.

I would be impressed if Generative CAD could show me the product life-cycle based on trends, but then again i’d be just as impressed with time travel.

I think that if you shifted purpose as an Iterative design tool for Industrial Designers it could be very popular. I have no qualms about being a “design selector”, using my design background to make selections that make good sense. This is not so different from the Design Director who has his staff create designs that he then selects and helps reform except that the computer is doing the iteration based on input. I, for one, love the iterative design process, but also hate the tedium that can come along with it, so something that would aid in this part of the process could be helpful.

I dunno Yo, I wouldn’t be too skeptical, consider coming up with a design, one you know that you will want to explore some iterations of, and then have a computer plug them away for you to decide or change direction. If the generation were more interactive than just spitting out images it could be pretty compelling.

From page 8. I’m not skeptical, I’m all for another tool, I just don’t confuse tools with processes, and I want to know the experience level of the main proponent so I can see if this person truly understands the process we go through to make culturally relevant product.

And I’m still waiting for a case-study or some applications that Industrial Designers would find useful.

I’ve been away from the forums for the past couple weeks so I’m getting into this a little late. I was a bit taken aback by how cold the initial response was, but more by how little staunch advocates (sk) of generative design have moved towards a position that is workable for most IDers. GD needs to enhance and be integrated into the design process, not try to take over (that may not be the intent, but that’s how it’s come across). So here’s my $0.02 (sorry for the length):

While “Generative Design” sounds cooler, I think “Random Generative Creation” or “Curious Tool” or some other name seems more accurate, because it’s not really “design”. It’s not replacing the decision making, problem solving process. And it’s not going to replace research, marketing or other inputs. So generating lots of random shapes is somewhat pointless, because basic decisions such as large or small, square or round, etc. should be made through other means besides picking from a sea of variations. Plus, as has been mentioned, it’s not generating variations in the primary generating-variations phase of the project (2D sketching).

That being said, I do think it could have some good uses, which may or may not be true GD. Actually, probably most aren’t, but maybe that’s my point, that just random variations isn’t useful enough:

Work with engineering/structural needs - Sometimes we need to design parts that are structurally important, and it’s good to know possibilities for ideal structures. But instead of giving it a blank slate, give it a few designs you think will work and have it generate variations on them that will actually work or be stronger or more material efficient. Then tweak and run some regular FEAs. Sort of like the Morphogenisis stuff from SolidThinking, but let me suggest solutions then give me structurally tuned variations.

Better, more understandable & tweakable parametric design – sorta like the sliders interface that had been proposed by Cdaisy. For example, maybe I know an edge should be curved, but I have to figure out exactly what curve. So show me circular, elliptical, parabolic, etc. with a 2-3 dimensional variations for each, plus let me throw in a hand drawn spline or two to help me resolve this. Then I could interactively throw out what immediately isn’t working, tweak what is, and maybe do some more random dimension variations for the ellipse. Or maybe I can link a few different edges and en masse switch them all from circular to elliptical to see what that’s like. Or randomly tweak dimensions or the mix of curve types to help me experiment with the refinements. The randomness helps solve detail problems, not the full design. And the user always has final control, and can always add their own designs to the random mix (maybe be able to draw the major lines of a form, and have it work off that). And not 1000s or 100s of choices, but a more manageable number (5-20?) that can be whittled down then re-expanded if necessary.

Equation driven designs & Patterns - kind of an extension of above, and seems to be the only consensus on this thread. But this seems only really useful once it has been decided by traditional means that a certain general shape is desired.

Sparking ideas, happy accidents - I’d never use this as my only means of diverging, but maybe 3/4 through the process I could see running this and see if there was some interesting/useful direction I missed. More of a check than anything. BUT, unfortunately, this generally happens pre-CAD, so having to go into CAD just to do this is a deterrent for many projects & designers.

But with those benefits do come some dangers, I think, which would need to be addressed (by the software itself and the way it’s used):

Missing ideas that the computer didn’t generate. Instead of all those handle generations, what about a knob? Or a hole in the handle? Different levels of detail? etc. Right now it doesn’t seem like the generators are going to create anything “out of the box,” but maybe will in the future (random word → google image search → random selection → combine with sketch. Sounds more like a toy, but could find something interesting, so useful if that takes 5min of human work).

Becoming too reliant upon it for idea generation. Then instead of having designs looking and feeling like they were inspired by nature or whatever you previously used as inspiration, you get bland and cold results that aren’t very interesting or human.

Not tweaking the results. I don’t know why any serious designer wouldn’t, but it seems like many negative reactions assume that the designs would go straight from generator to manufacture.

Going to CAD too quickly. With good reason, most or all of the GD tools for ID & architecture work with CAD. But for ID, most of the diverging and concept generation is complete at that stage. It seems like 1000s of times it’s been reaffirmed that sketching is important, so skipping that to get into generative design immediately seems like a non-starter.

great points seurban

Lets have a 1HDC. Sketching vs. Generative Design. How quickly can you come up with not just ideas, but good ideas on a given project in one hour.

that is an awesome idea. SK, you in?

Great points Seurban.

There are a few markets cough, Asia, cough where the mass production of Pacific Gyre food would be exacerbated by cheaper, more rapid “design” processes where “make and sell” trumps “design, solve, improve, and sell”, I submit the following:

This is something that, because of the aspect of the work I do, I have thought quite a bit about. I believe the argument for God still makes sense (or maybe the jury is still out), but not in any way that most religions explain it, and while I realize that SK believes most designers don’t know much about natural design or that they only wax lyrical with the topic to market themselves or their products, it is still a foundational aspect of the universe that I cannot believe how many people in general do not accept; the reality that all things are connected, absolutely. I find it hard to deny that within those infinite connections there is no intent, everything designers do is to connect dots to solve problems and add value.

So, because of the weird pseudo-modular world that I design in it got me thinking about the concept of pre-design. Designing the components, the capabilities, and the constraints with the knowledege that I am designing a system that designers will design with, make sense? I cannot conceivably design every combination of these things, but I can design the system that allows for it and let the designers use it to propagate designs for their clients’ criteria. So I help design this system to enable them to come up with and create good designs and put constraints in place so that they don’t come up with crappy ones (nothing is foolproof). Ultimately I am the 1st tier designer of everything that every designer who uses my system comes up with.

Where this is also applicable is in the mass-customization market, of which I am in some weird way a part of. Instead of designing a system for designers to use, companies are designing systems for consumers to use, to personalize their product or experience, if SK’s research proves true; that consumers are willing to pay 30% to 60% more for customized products, there is some major value there. There’s been lots of discussions on the part of designers about how user design would rob them of their job, eat their lunch, de-value design, or uglify the world. I think what these people need to realize is that there will be shifts from designing the thing to designing the thing that allows the consumer to design the thing, what I call pre-design, for lack of a better term. Basically providing tools developed by a designer so that they can design like a designer, but we hold the keys by developing the capabilities and the constraints and designing good examples for consumers to follow. Currently tools like this are web based, and all too often they are too limiting, or poorly executed. I will give another nod to the gaming industry in that with some games they allow absolute character customization because they know this makes the experience more immersive and keeps the player in the game, but all of these character design tools have constraints based on the game designers intent, he doesn’t want players making purple 2’ gnomes, fine, it is not possible then. This stuff is way easier to do in a virtual environment, but when someone cracks the code in product fulfillment, and does it well, it will be a game changer for sure.

If you combine a Generative design tool with pre-designed constraints (intent), with the mass-customization market, with rapid manufacturing you have one hell of a powerful business model. Those consumers are willing to place more value on something that they have a hand in creating, hence it holds more personal value, hence it is more sentimental, hence they are less likely to discard it, hence it is less likely to create a plastic continent in the Pacific.

“Tool design.”

Nike ID is a good example of tool-design. It’s just really user-friendly CAD with a lot of constraints designed in.

The aspect of meaning has come up on the ID side of this discussion and it’s valid to a degree, but it’s got me thinking we’re kidding ourselves if we think we can give more meaning to a product than a user that customizes it can. What we can do is create design platforms that allow the user to add their own meaning, hence turning a lot of marketing schill on it’s ear, the source of many a designer’s woes. So much capital spent on marketing and brand building to try to get consumers to see meaning in products that have none, or very little. To me, all of that “convincing” seems like a Band-Aid to make up for the fact that mass production is a cold gated activity. If something kicks ass your costumers will sell it for you.

Just because I can own a Nike ID doesn’t mean that I do.
That doesn’t mean the shoes I wear are without meaning.

totally, just make sure its something that can be done generatively, like a lamp or alien character. kidding! :laughing:

but srsly really, I’m in.

Nice points seurban, good contribution to the discussion.

Sketch vs generative design I’m in too. I’ll take either side. Sketching I can do in an hour, writing a program for gendesign is going to take a few days depending on the topic. Once done however, it will generate a lot of designs in an hour.

Random thoughts:

Grasshopper3D, have installed and am playing with, that is one seductive interface and concept! I can see lots of hours ahead learning it more, exploring it, adding it to the toolbox.

The current stage of architecture looks nice at the Shanghai Expo where the buildings are temporary and consist of performance use of space and demonstrations of national and architectural prowess. These structures seem inefficient in terms of use of space, materials, construction cost. It seems like an unsustainable trend.

When in 2017, HomePlanPro CAD allows your neighbor to build a customized house pod with all of the curves and swoops that gen design will allow. Does that increase the value of your own property?

Perhaps the person who invented/streamlined injected EVA shoes (typified by Crocs) was predicting the death of the shoe industry as we know it, and the medieval use animal skins to cover our feet would cease to exist. Somehow I don’t think the reaction of fine Italian shoe makers was fear. Perhaps they just realized that not everyone likes plastic shoes.

There are a couple Nike ID flagship stores here in the city. The hundred personalized shoes on the wall look random. The shoe that a non-designer builds for themselves may have personal meaning, but it seems like it fails on advancing the overall aesthetic of society. Simply, directly put, them look ugly. The shoes in the main store look like the results of the effort of serious professionals at a multi-billion dollar company. I am working on various projects for mass customization, but have concerns that the results of a million amateurs will look like similar to a hundred thousand simians pressing choices of a Flash app on a easy to clean touch screen. For a new way to make and sell things, it is an interesting and challenging pursuit.

I originally thought concerning the mass customization concept, Nike ID for example, that somewhere there was a kid designing shoes that would be recognized as a shoes design genius for his/her use of materials, colors, etc. His/her friends would all want the designs and a career would be launched. I have serious doubts about this after seeing the results, but I may be wrong. Maybe there is a Nike ad campaign in the works to introduce him or her to us.

At least in this case the monkeys pressing the screen would get a shoe out everytime :slight_smile: , well, a monkey with a credit card.

Just curious, does anyone consider the work of Tokujin Yoshioka to be generative in nature? He has ‘grown’ both a chair and a chandelier. He’s also ‘baked’ a chair and made both an aluminum chair and a paper chair that are ‘customisable’. Perhaps when it comes to generative methods, designers now look more towards behavior and experience to create meaning than necessarily material and form alone?


This is what I was interested in hearing. How much time does it take in general to do all the programing for any given project? A few days? I thought one of the arguments for GD is speed, but I’m not sure this is really the case. Even after the time spent to write code and get the results, then you have to go through those 1000’s of options and still use your design sense to weed out bad options. All this just to get to step one.

Generative Music? Fast forward (or don’t) to 1:27 to see what Steven Colbert calls “Threat number two: Jazz Robots. Which combines two of the biggest threats to our nation: jazz and robots.”

It depends on the design and the amount of factors you attempt to program in. It requires a programming approach and a breakdown of the elements of the design into quantities. This is something that I think is going to be alien to most designers. It is a known approach to parametric CAD users, but is almost at polar opposites to a designers approach.

Think of the complexity and time required to make a flexible parametric description of an object inside SolidWorks or Pro-E. This is not a short amount of time for any real world object. It generally involves a designer submitting a concept to a CAD engineer, the CAD engineer then evaluates the best way to construct the object and then builds a set of definitions for the design. There is no specific approach and many options so a solution may require iterations. A working model is then arrived at the will construct the objects with some degree of flexibility. This is step one. Getting the design defined into parameters. Any approach that has been discussed in this topic requires this as the first step.

Step two: Since it is of limited utility use to just randomize the numbers and make infinite variations, the designer defines some relationships to use as guidelines. Height to width, handle diameter to the human hand, dimensions of a watch mechanism, etc., etc. The designer attempt to capture his or her intent into ratios or formulas or limits. As my previous example of a wastepaper basket, this may be easily done. For slightly more complicated objects, let’s say a PVC urban toy figure, this can draw from an existing set of objects and some assumptions about where the range of possibilities lie. Naturally this envelope can be used as a flexible limit and include outside of the range values.

Big caveat in this whole approach. Some, many, even most designers do not think of the designs as a set of individual variables, or of the user experience as a set of numerical quantities. Many designers just make things of varying degrees of greatness. They do it without ever thinking of the numerical value of a corner.

How long does it take to quantify some intent? Let’s just talk in limited ways for this discussion, because writing the scope of human imagination into a series of formula is not possible.

Urban toy, two legs, a body, two arms, a head. Six elements. 20 Cm tall. No inner workings, one material. Simple. I estimate a week for a good flexible parametric description, joint work between an engineer who can break apart a design into geometry, and a designer who can consider the possible variations and give feedback to keep the design flexible. Hand, number of fingers 2-8, finger taper, finger bend, knuckle angle, finger palm ratio, wrist angle, sleeve no sleeve, forearm taper, forearm bulge, forearm curvature, you see where this goes. Another couple days to a week of building some relationships, head to body ratios, roundness to make it seem cute and babylike proportions, maybe feeding in scaled measurements of babies and formula to exaggerate the results, etc. This definition does not represent every possibility, just the range that could be conceived at the time.

Two weeks of work with two inclined people and capable software tools. With no consideration toward graphic decoration, a CAD iteration can be generated and nicely rendered in four views every minute on normal hardware. 60 pieces an hour, 1440 rendered 2D variations a day, for as long as you like.

Thanks for that info.
I guess GD is out of the 1HDC by default.