Generative Design

The future of CAD

Towards a world of unique copies

with 2 comments

An interesting Turkish  article by Eray Çaylı , recently translated discusses new and interesting possibilities.

Recent technological advances provide designers with the possibility of modeling not only the form but also the ‘DNA’ of artifacts. This is precisely what is of primary concern to ‘generative design’: how to design not only the artifacts themselves but, more importantly, the processes that will produce those artifacts. Therefore, what ‘generative design’ actually designs–thanks to software such as Processing and Mathematica–are algorithmic processes, which then result in the production of unique products.

It refers to the  “Breesing Tables” project by Kram/Weisshaar’.

Breeding Tables

A series of tables have been created algorithmically. Their intent as explained :

Their goal instead is to be able to create an infinite number of unique products–in the case of this specific project, tables. In order to do so, the duo turn to contemporary manufacturing technologies. Eventually what they design is a process, which is based on a computer code developed specifically for this project. Forms that are distinct from one another are physically manufactured by laser-cutting and steel-bending machines which are again controlled entirely by computers. To be more clear, each process results in table legs that each have a unique geometry.

parameters driving the table design

Çaylı makes some very interesting observations pertaining to intellectual property rights of such designs.

It is important to examine in further detail the impact brought about by ‘generative design’ with respect to the ethical and legal issues that evolve around the concept of intellectual property. …The fundamental shift brought about by the Information Society paradigm opens up for debate the very established notions such as ‘intellectual property.’ A popular example to such debate evolves around the ‘open-source’ phenomenon, which has enabled individuals to share the fruits of their creative processes with one another with almost no legal protection. As a result, especially in the post-industrial West, conventional design processes that focus entirely on the ‘end-product’ are increasingly abandoned. The pioneers of ‘generative design’ also point to a future where designers adapt process-oriented approaches: exploit possibilities presented by the latest technology, and work with time as their new medium–and information, their new material. Furthermore, advances in manufacturing technologies reduce the cost differences between mass-producing the same product and fast-producing unique products. As Kram/Weisshaar’s ‘Breeding Tables’ shows, generative design does not aim to produce an infinite number of copies based a single, unique design but rather pursues to create infinitely many originals without being based on an initial prototype. This is precisely why the validity of the notion ‘end-product’ is threatened by such projects: in the last analysis, the value/intellectual property to be protected by law is not the ‘end-product’ but rather the design process (including the software and algorithm) that allows designers to create those products.


Written by Sivam Krish

December 27, 2009 at 7:19 am

2 Responses

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  1. ‘…..generative design’ actually designs–thanks to software such as Processing and Mathematica–are algorithmic processes….’

    isn’t there more difference between generative and algorithmic design. true that generative design is normally done in terms of algorithms but don’t you think that there are further specificities to it that make it different from algorithmic design?


    March 13, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    • good question Umar. At what point and how does something that is algorithmic become generative ? . I would think that algorithms can create form. But creating form in itself is not generative. I would consider it generative only when algorithms are used within a frame work of design exploration – not just design creation.

      Sivam Krish

      April 18, 2013 at 11:23 pm

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