Generative Design

The future of CAD

Archive for the ‘Animation’ Category

Is Form Design Animation ?

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Architects and Designers may not see it this way. The evolution of design is no longer in their hands, it used to be.  They are no longer in control of the tools of their trade. A bunch of nerds have taken it over. They own it now. They are a passionate lot.

SIGGRAPH Conference

This bunch :  Special Interest Group on GRAPHics and Interactive Techniques, have more to do with the evolution of design than any other group (SIGGRAPH) on earth. They have collectively helped move the technology behind animation design at breathtaking speed. This group mainly computer scientist, meeting in their thousands ,  year after year from 1974 in many cities around the world have shaped the way design technology has evolved. Their impact on design practice is monumental. The world of design owes much to them. They deserve to be thanked. The technology they have helped developed is badly needed, not for architecture, not for product design but form more important needs.

The world needs to be entertained. Our kids cannot live without computer games.The  PC business will crash without it. Films cannot be made without it. Millions of hours of human attention cannot be engaged with out it. We are addicted to this digital opium.

Designers are now heavily reliant on digital technology. The next generation of designers will not be able to design without it, neither will they see the distinction between design and animation. The tools that are used are converging. Many popular animation tools  are also used for design and many CAD tools are  used for animation. The distinction between them is getting thinner by the day. But are they the same ?

Animation is about movement choreographed it time. It’s about allowing some portions or the bodies to move within limits. But is that not generative design ? .  Generative Design is about creating form variations within limits.

Generated Forms


Generative Design as we know it, works on the domain of form, texture and color –  it ignores for now, the domain of time.There is no reason why movie sequences – which are now programs, cannot be generated. They can be, and I am sure are to some extent. But let us turn our attention to Generative Design;  the generation of form, texture and color. Design is nothing, but the exploration of these. Digital tools are now used for this, but the exploration is manual – the guarded domain of the designer. Generative Design is set to change this. It will soon provide designers with the most powerful tools of exploration. So what has animation got to do with it ?

Animation is about the movement of form. Its based on rules of physics. It is about engaging human emotions. It is about simulate reality. It is about rules and constrains – that binds movements within acceptable limits. So is Generative Design.

Is not form design the animation of  form ?


Written by Sivam Krish

April 17, 2010 at 5:16 pm

What’s driving Generative Design

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Adoption” is something that all new technologies struggle with. Adoption is what finally shapes the very technology that is being adopted.  It picks up what is most useful and puts the rest  in cold storage.

Generated Worlds

We now live in a world of generated designs. Our children play in procedurally generated worlds and we  enjoy movies that are not be possible if code did not create content. Generated digital content is all around us.

However, in the real world things are different. Many decades ago academics, first proposed,  discovered and dabble in these new possibilities, but  they have failed to make a dent in the practice of design which had been left safely  or unsafely in the hands of  CAD companies. CAD companies were tool builders for the design trade focused on profits and market share  by  creating  “efficiencies”  that could help justify the price tag.  The drop in design fees and the need to create geometric complexity (without additional cost)  has further fueled the drive for efficiency.

The changes in CAD systems are driven by the desire for higher efficiencies

Efficiencies however, cannot be improved purely by improving the tools.  Henry Ford proved that  great efficiencies can be gained purely by changing the work process with minor tweaks to the tools.  But CAD companies were not in the business of selling “Design Thinking”. Universities were. But then, universities were not in the business of “delivering the goods” – so there we are.

We now have a situation where CAD industry linked entities  like Autodesk University and Smart Geometry and other independent firms such as Mode are developing and leading the belated changes in work processes. This is a positive step and we are seeing some real progress.

Like it or not, Design is about the management of information.

But in the case of design, this information needs to be in a fluid state. It needs to be changed and altered all the time. As the complexity of the design increases this becomes a major burden. Every time a change is made a large number of other changes have to be made. If information is stored in a disconnected way (which is usually the case) this can become a nightmare. If it is structured appropriately and seamlessly connected, then changes can be made easily and new possibilities can be rapidly and painlessly explored. This is what generative design is helping us to do at this stage.

Its helping us manage changes in design – due to the intelligent structuring of  information

So this is what generative design is doing now creating efficiencies. What it can do is something else.

Written by Sivam Krish

January 14, 2010 at 12:16 pm