Generative Design

The future of CAD

Do designs live in an envelope ?

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Design Envelope

Design Envelope –  is a difficult concept for designers to grasp. Their mission in life is to push design beyond that envelope of what is thought to be possible.  But as they attempt this, designs get pushed back in – by these nasty constraints brought to their attention by  engineers, managers, marketers and all those who do not understand design. They are the “no you can’t” people. They know nothing about design, but they know about constraints.

Designers spend their lives  negotiating constraints. But do not see it that way.

In the center of this envelope  is the area that designers fear, for this is where designs converge pushed in by the realities of constraints. Here products start looking like each other and behaving like each other. So design training and design practice is about avoiding this region of commonality.  Design is about escaping it. Design becomes a struggle against this envelope of constraints.

Thankfully, the envelope itself is ever evolving. New materials, technologies and social needs continue to open new regions of possibilities. If you look any interesting design, you will see that it is remarkable because it is distinctive.  It is distinctive because it has moved away from the commonality – to limits that the envelope of constraints will allow. The masters of design are at play in this region, creating stuff claiming  new territories as their own. This is where they play. But with generative design, they can not only play but have a party. As patrons vie for attention in an attention deficit world, architects compete with each other to seek attention through complexity. At enormous cost, taking engineering risks  that eventually  help keep pushing the envelope of possibilities. This game is greatly amusing and gratifying.  The results appear to be creative – to a large extent it is, as it  pushes boundaries an conquer new territories within the envelope of the possible.

Currently the use of generative design is flourishing with this envelope and it will till it can no longer attract the attention of those who are tired of squiggly shapes ans strenuous patterns. Till then, those who are interested in harnessing the powers of computers for  better design  may invest their efforts in better understanding constrains –  for design is primarily the management of constraints.

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Written by Sivam Krish

November 18, 2009 at 2:53 am

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