Generative Design

The future of CAD

Gut reaction to Generative Design

with one comment

I have had for many years the displeasure of talking about generative design to designers, mainly product designers This was not about parametric design that is now happily mistaken to be generative design. Parametric design is tamer stuff, the designer is still in control. But I was into freaky stuff – where computers generate designs, seeming unaided.

To my  surprised – the very concept irritated them. Many then had not heard of generative design then. So it was an alien concept to start with, but I could not figure out why it distressed them so deeply.

Many years later, I seem to have gathered some sense as to why :

  1. Work processes are very personal and have been developed over a life time and not something to be messed with.
  2. Design is fun an enjoyable – there is no need to make it more efficient (taking the fun out of it)
  3. The fear that code based design will end up creating the same kind of designs
  4. Design requires thought (not random numbers)
  5. Personal insult – ” are you saying a program can do what I do ?
  6. This is not how I design” – the absolute faith in their own method
  7. “But, I would never design like this” – inability to distinguish between the method and results
  8. “But design is never done like that” – total ignorance of alternate design processes eg. from nature
  9. What will happen to us – the unthinkable prospect of computers replacing designers.
  10. “A human designer would never do that” – the superiority of man over machine
  11. “There is no need for this” –  designers can do it (we have a floor full of them – in Asia)
  12. “Our CAD experts are aware of this” – I do not want to know this stuff.
  13. “We have tested this out and it does not work” – don’t waste my time.
  14. “I have seen it some where – can’t remember where” – there is nothing new.
  15. “The company needs me – not the program” – fear of it working
  16. “This is good” – but useless (it cannot help me)
  17. “I only use XXX CAD” – (this is another CAD package right ?)
  18. “You have no idea how we design” – we know it all.
  19. “You can down load designs now” – Its something to do with the internet and we do not need it.

The all time best was

” We don’t have a design problem.”

Without resorting to  psycho analysis, I think that it was possible to conclude that designers are deeply conservative – especially in their work processes. Perhaps this is required for them to do creative work – like some horse needing blinkers to fous on what they do. Designs do not see design as a search process. They see it more as an internally driven or inspiration driven process to be applied to the next available project. Designers seem to be far more obsessed with their own creative integrity than the value of the outcome that is required by the patron. This makes sense, as carrier progress of designers has more to do with external recognition than internal value maximization. But the biggest hurdle is the lack of awareness of alternate design processes and denial of it.

While they every ready to acknowledge natures design ability, they are averse to using its methods – especially the ones that wax lyrical about how it inspires their work. Most designers  know jack about how nature designs though it is now relatively well understood by most school kids.They did not want to know. They were in denial.

But what drew their wrath was the claim that computers could design.

They saw massive inefficiency in creating many designs. For them the “answer is….” something that needs to be pre-processed and selected very early on. The exploration of course happens in their head, guided reasonably efficiently by their own experiences and methods. Understandably what comes of  their brain got to be the best solution.

Overall it is an utter waste of time talking to close minded designers about generative design. This is sceptically true for the older generation of designers. But this is changing. The web generation is different. They love stuff that does not require thought. For them Generative design is naturally very cool. Its heavens gift. Its awesome –  specially because the older folks don’t get it. But the older folks being mature, know that they don’t get it, but they are happy to include generated stuff on brochures and exhibitions, with some philosophical tit bits to go with the graphics.

But for most, especially those who are passionate about design,  generative design appears to be a painful prospect; too much to unlearned and too much to learn.This pain is profound and needs to be understood:  it’s caused by the realization that something has fundamentally changed, to a point where they cannot muster the energy to start a new journey.

Rare are the designers who can go beyond that point and try out things that could undo their lives learning.

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Written by Sivam Krish

May 20, 2010 at 3:30 am

One Response

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  1. More reactions to generative design in the core77 group : http://boards.core77.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=21620&hilit=generative+design

    Sivam Krish

    October 24, 2010 at 12:38 am


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