After working for many years on different engineering projects, Jordi and Joan Marc realized that many professionals spend their days doing repetitive tasks that do not add value to the final product. For this reason, they decided to start ADDA Lab; a consulting agency focused on exploring new technologies, tools, and methodologies.
A few months ago, they started Forma, a digital library powered by ShapeDiver that offers customizable objects, accessible and open to everyone.
In this interview, we discuss their background, the type of work and clients they focus on, and topics such as Digital Fabrication and Augmented Reality.
1. Hello there! Thank you for taking some time today. Please tell us a bit about yourselves.
Jordi: Thank you for having us! Our names are Joan Marc and Jordi. We are both from Vilassar de Mar, a coastal town near Barcelona. We founded ADDA Lab a few years ago.
We're both engineers with experience in Architecture, Industrial Design, and Additive Manufacturing, among other areas.
Joan Marc loves climbing and hiking and has an extensive library of thick books and magazines. I love digital art, fractal landscapes, woodworking, and growing a vegetable garden.
2. What is ADDA?
Advanced Digital Design & Architecture (ADDA) is a computer engineering agency based at 22@ Barcelona's innovation district, which works on the nexus of design and technology to promote more efficient, sustainable, and collaborative production and consumption models, fair for people and the environment.
We worked for years in our respective sectors and were slightly disappointed with the methodologies used in many companies. We noticed that many engineers spend their days doing repetitive tasks without a clue about the final performance of the projects developed until the end of the design cycle and without taking care of critical aspects of design, such as people and the environment.
For this reason, we decided to start ADDA Lab. We wanted to focus on exploring new technologies, tools, and methodologies that could allow the development of impactful projects more efficiently and sustainably.
3. What is Forma?
Forma (forma.barcelona) is a digital library of customizable objects, accessible and open to everyone.
At its core, it uses Grasshopper files hosted online via the ShapeDiver platform. At ADDA, we've been building parametric models for product configuration for a long time. Soon we realized that bringing those configurators to the cloud was necessary to make them readily available to everyone.
Forma wants to be a channel to spread this knowledge and showcase the possibilities of online product configuration, allowing users to interact and configure objects tailored to their needs and spaces and instantly generate the instructions for their digital manufacturing.
It is a project developed from bottom to top, collaborating with maker spaces and the collectives around them to co-create the solutions and validate every step to close the digital gap and contribute to technologies for the common good.
4. In your opinion, how does parametric/generative design differ from traditional 3D modeling?
Traditional 3D modeling was a big step from the "pencil and ruler" method. It helped create complex projects, reducing development times, avoiding mistakes, and reducing repetitive tasks.
The same happens with parametric and generative design. It can automate the modeling process, avoiding repetitive tasks and human errors while at the same time using computational power to calculate complex solutions and generate thousands of possibilities to test in a design stage the final performance of projects.
These methodologies are crucial to creating what we call "meta-designs". These designs follow the same rules but can generate infinite different results. As an analogy, it is similar to DNA, resulting in entirely different specimens with similar instructions.
5. Which industries can see the most significant benefit from adopting this design approach?
From our point of view, any industry that focuses on producing physical objects. From jewelry to architecture. It may seem like a broad approach to developing a business. Still, if we look at our clients at ADDA, we can find orthotics manufacturers, architectural offices, machinery and tooling industries, furniture brands, and cosmetic producers, to name a few.
So we think it is more a way to approach problem resolution than specific solutions for industries. We use several different tools in our daily work, and when we don't find any that fits our objectives, we code and develop what's needed to solve the problem or to empower and help the ones who will.
6. How are web technologies shaping how we understand and interact with online products?
Digital technologies have dramatically changed our world and will continue to do so. The web has become a space where humans can interact with each other, no matter the physical location. First was messaging, later video, but now we can even play with geometries and other complex interactions.
Nowadays, these technologies are mature enough to provide affordable, robust solutions to create seamless experiences where users can interact with products in an immersive manner. Not only for visualizing and understanding them but for personalizing and adapting them to the user's needs and preferences.
This makes it possible for manufacturers to create products that fit their users' needs, provide value, and help them automate and communicate with their business and manufacturing processes to make them possible without added complexity.
7. What can online users do nowadays that they couldn't ten years ago?
Maybe the one with a higher impact is Augmented Reality. Merging the virtual with the physical world opens many possibilities, not only for games.
For example, the fact that you can see a personalized design in the space where it's going to be installed enables users to visualize and validate before buying it, improving the overall buying experience and increasing the client's satisfaction with the product and the brand.
8. What's the most significant impact of digital fabrication? How is it related to other movements, such as distributed manufacturing?
Digital Manufacturing is a broad concept involving additive and subtractive production methods. Their most substantial impact is the connection with a computer that enables the manufacturing of complex parts and, most important, on-demand production, allowing the production of different geometries and objects each time.
They open the door to personalized production and distributed manufacturing, making it possible to manufacture the same object in different manufacturing locations.
These methodologies differ broadly from mass manufacturing, which needs the production of thousands of identical parts to be profitable and push production to centralized locations worldwide. Both digital and distributed manufacturing enable sustainable and human-centered means of production. Manufacturing happens near the final user, and each product can be different from the one before and the one after, and where companies can cooperate to fulfill an order, sharing production capacity and acting in synergy as a bigger organism.
We strongly value those methodologies at ADDA and bet on them to disrupt and change tomorrow's production and consumption models.
9. How can businesses start embracing these new technologies?
There are two main approaches: the first is to start small, with a product that can benefit the most from this methodologies, and from there, validate the process and start adding more functionalities and broaden it to the rest of the company's portfolio.
The second one is to create a business model from a disruptive perspective to make something new that can offer users and clients something that the competition cannot.
The clue is the combination of technologies and methodologies, such as digital manufacturing, distributed production, reality capture, extended reality, and cloud environments. There are many possible combinations, and every product or business will have different visions, needs, and strategies, so we invite companies to reach out to us to talk and explore possibilities so we can guide them through the endless potentialities that lay ahead.
- Thank you very much for these valuable insights!
Thank you as well for having us.
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