Design

How Generative Design Creates From The Top Down

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Generative design uses computer algorithms to come up with a variety of designs based on the criteria you need, rather than what the object should look like.

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It Might Be On Your Feet...

To understand the appeal of generative design, think about the evolution of the athletic shoe. If you wanted to exercise in the 17th century, your only choice was to wear shoes with flimsy leather or hard wooden soles. The first rubber soles weren't invented until 1876, and the first arch supports and non-slip technology were created at the turn of the century. The athletic shoes of today look nothing like shoes even 50 years ago. This is a large-scale example of how most traditional design works: you start with one design, then experiment with incremental improvements until you have the new design you want.

Compare that with the Under Armour Architech shoe, which was created using Autodesk generative design software. Designers plugged in the exact levels of cushioning and stability they wanted in the shoe's midsole, and the computer returned a series of unique designs that lived up to those specifications. The result was a futuristic-looking shoe with a 3D-printed, lattice-structured sole, no experimentation required.

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Where You Come In

This isn't to suggest that humans have no hand in generative design. The process is a collaborative one, with a human designer not only entering the specific features they need, but modifying them with each batch of computer-generated designs and using their own intuition to choose the design that best suits their vision. The simplification also leaves more room for designers to think creatively without being bogged down in the minute details. This process has designed airplane parts, race cars, a bridge in Amsterdam, and other everyday pieces, and it could soon have a hand in everything from furniture to medicine.

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