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Designers Corner [Ep. 8] – Marco Traverso

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Blog > Designers Corner

Designers Corner [Ep. 8] – Marco Traverso

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<<Designers Corner is the place where Parametric Designers talk about their work. There is a story behind every model, and who better to tell the story than the designers themselves? In today’s episode we had a chance to talk to Italian computational designer Marco Traverso.>>

Who is Marco Traverso?

Marco Traverso is an Italian Computational/3D Designer & Developer from Rome, Italy. He has an academic background in Mechanical Engineering and have always worked at the crossroads between Industrial and Transportation Design, Architecture, 3D Modeling & Visualization and Software/Web Development.

He currently focuses on Computational Design and now works as a Parametric Design Consultant, Grasshopper Trainer and Freelance Designer for studios and companies around the world.

Marco also the launched Car Body Design back in 2004, a very popular website amongst Car Design aficionados up to this date, which focuses on Automotive & Industrial Design.

1. Hi Marco! Thank you for joining us. Let’s start with a bit of your background and why you’re doing what you’re doing right now.

Hello and thank you for having me here!

I’m from Rome, Italy and I studied Mechanical Engineering. Since I was quite young I’ve been very passionate about cars, computer graphics, computer programming, drawing and design.

I wasn’t sure about what I wanted to become, so I thought this path could be a “compromise” that would allow me to deal with all these topics, even if I sometimes questioned my decision. In hindsight I must say that’s exactly what happened!

After university I worked as a Design Engineer and then as self-employed in a variety of fields: from web publishing (with the Car Body Design website) to CAD modeling and programming, CG visualization, software development.

2. Tell us a bit more about Car Body Design. When and why did you start it? Who should check it out?

I launched Car Body Design in 2004 as an extension of my personal website marcotraverso.it, where I published my university thesis on the design of automotive space frames (which is still online by the way).

It was originally conceived as a repository of technical papers and articles on automotive engineering and design, then I started publishing more design-related material, from technical papers to drawing and 3D modeling tutorials.

carbodydesign.com was launched in 2004 and is a leading website in the automotive and industrial design fields, with over 2 million pages visited every month.

The website started to gain traction and within a couple of years it became my main occupation and a well-established resource in the field.

The audience is primarily made of professionals working in the Automotive Design Industry, as well as car design students, but there are also many industrial designers and car enthusiasts!

In the future we’ll publish more 3D design-related content, while my 3D work and research is published on my personal site and – soon – on ParametricProject.net.

3. That’s great! What’s your first “design-related” memory?

I have a few of them: I loved drawing since I was a small kid, I remember I knew from memory all the color codes of the Stabilo markers and colored pencils!

Regarding the digital part of design, I’ve been always passionate about computers and computer graphics. At 12 years I coded a Basic program on the Apple IIc to display solids in perspective, while two years later I designed a couple of video games on the Commodore 64 using a program called SEUCK.

Regarding cars, I remember reading the “Auto & Design” magazine back in the mid 1980s. It’s amazing how my interests haven’t changed that much in all these years!

4. Which one is your software of choice and why?

I have always used Rhino since the early versions, and I started using Grasshopper in 2012. I immediately fell in love with the philosophy behind it and spent a lot of time learning how to use it for different purposes, from the more common “generative design” shapes, to solid CAD modeling and creative concept design.

Last year I made a significant change and I decided to focus all my effort and energy on Parametric 3D Modeling. I still manage Car Body Design, but I’m now quite busy working as a 3D design consultant and Grasshopper trainer for design studios and engineering companies around the world.

-- Check out this and other future models directly on Marco Traverso's profile on ShapeDiver. --

5. In your own words, what is Parametric Design and why is it so important and revolutionary ?

Many people can see parametric design as a mere rationalization process that transforms an idea into a series of repeatable steps.

While this might be formally true, what I really find fascinating is that, contrary to common belief, I believe that Parametric Design is a great creative tool, perhaps the most important revolution of the past years.

Parametric Design allows designers to fine-tune their work until they find the right aesthetic balance without having to redo things from scratch; it allows to easily create variations and families of products; it enables to create complex shapes like textures and patterns that cannot be practically done using traditional approaches; it allows for new design approaches, like generative/algorithm design and form finding methods.

But, perhaps more surprisingly, it also allows to creatively experiment and explore countless variations that completely depart from the initial design intent, and this almost always leads to happy accidents, and sparks new ideas and inspirations.

Parametric Model used to explore new ideas

6. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from the Automotive Industry?

There are couple of important lessons that I learned from the automotive world and that are related to design.

The first one is about emotions. For my generation – and even more for our parents – cars had still a strong emotional appeal and represented a symbol of freedom and independence. These strong, positive feelings are a very important part of good design.

Obviously it’s far more difficult to create these emotions with everyday products, yet many brands and designers have demonstrated that it’s possible, so as designers we should always strive for conveying something that goes beyond the mere technical aspects of a product.

The second lesson is about the importance of details and proportions. When you draw a car you realize that a very small difference in a single line can completely change the overall look, a bit like when drawing a human face.

7. How could the Automotive Industry apply more efficiently concepts such as Additive Manufacturing and Parametric Design?

The automotive industry is a very challenging one: it involves huge investments and long development times, so most of the time it is quite conservative in nature.

Also, the production volumes for series models did not allow for an easy implementation of the new additive manufacturing processes. However this is rapidly changing, and these new processes are more and more used in R&D but also on the actual production of some specific components.

Regarding Parametric Design, while in terms of feature-based, non-destructive CAD modeling it has always been widely used – and actually almost invented – by car makers, when we intend it as the procedural / algorithm-driven creation of geometry, then the adoption rate is not as fast as in other fields like architecture or product design.

However this is changing and many car manufacturer have realized the benefits of these methods. This is also due to the necessity of incorporating the contemporary aesthetic language made of organic, intricate details and textures, that can only be achieved using an algorithm-driven approach. 

We can already see many applications in today’s cars, especially in details and individual components like grilles, wheels, interior textures. 

Car Wheel Design Exploration based on a single Grasshopper definition

In the future I believe that new tools capable of combining the best of the CAD traditional modeling tools, with the benefits of alternative techniques like subdivision surfaces or sculpting, all within a non-destructive, parametric framework will change the way many designs are created, especially in the early concept stage. And then, if we consider the ever increasing use of A.I.-based technology, I believe that algorithm-driven design processes are going to be extremely relevant in the next future.

8. We couldn’t agree more! Thank you Marco! It’s been a pleasure talking to you!

Thank you as well for having me here and for anyone wanting to get in touch with me please visit either website: marcotraverso.it or carbodydesign.com


That’s it for this 8th episode of Designers Corner! You can contact or check out Marco Traverso’s work directly at his Instagram account and website.

Dont forget to check out more interviews with great designers by like Arthur Mamou-Mani and Marie Boltenstern.

Would you like to be featured in this space? Make sure to contact us! Just send an email to contact@shapediver.com and tell us about your work!