<< This is a guest post written by Victor Alonso da Silva, CEO of Interior Design startup BLECAUTE. He’s previously been featured in our blog and in this occasion he will share some thoughts on Computational Design and how him and his partner, Pedro Favaretto, got started. >>
Are We Cyborgs Yet?
Before we set foot into 2020 territory, I’d like to invite you to look back at some of the rising professions of this past decade: web development, programming/coding, UI/UX design, computational design.
Can you notice a pattern here? We do. Some of the the best paying jobs in 2019 require a deep understanding of how to “design” things with a computer so other humans can interact with them.
This is due to the increasing amount of tasks performed by humans via smartphones and computers. Need a partner? Tinder. Need a job? LinkedIn. Need food? Uber Eats. Relax at night? Netflix.
All this dependency in technology has made us “evolve” (or de-evolve?) into cyborg-like creatures with a 6″ screen glued to our hands. But have you ever wondered, who’s responsible for designing these experiences to begin with? Who is orchestrating everything for us behind the scenes?
The Role of a Designer in 2020 and Beyond…
Traditional designers have existed for a long time now. For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on a completely new breed of highly specialized designers. This modern version are called Computational Designers and work through visual programming. In other words, they work with programming languages that let users create algorithms by manipulating graphical elements rather than by specifying them textually.
A Computational Designer is technically a fusion between a traditional designer and a developer. This type of designer works for many different industries such as the furniture, jewelry, construction, automotive industries. They develop solutions using code, data computing, complex flows, define adjustable parametric constraints and automate any repetitive tasks.
The most common software used for this purpose is Grasshopper, a visual programming plugin that is incorporated into Rhinoceros. With Grasshopper, Computational Designers can create parametric 3D files, which, in a single file, contain rich amounts of data. This allows the designer (or anyone for that matter) to effortlessly modify any given object on the fly.
Once a model version is defined, modern manufacturing processes involving tools such as CNC laser cutters, routers or 3D printing machines take it to the next step, enabling Mass Customization instead of repetitive Mass Production.
The combination of these new technologies is drastically changing what the role of the designer is supposed to be. From an all-powerful decision maker to a co-designer that thinks ahead and offers as many options as possible to her users.
Co-Design Is the New Design
Have you ever been frustrated by a beautiful piece of furniture that just doesn’t fit a particular space? Or maybe a desire for a slightly bigger lampshade or a self-made piece of jewelry?
As Pedro and I were getting started in our Computational Designers careers and founded BLECAUTE, we wanted to give our users exactly this freedom. We didn’t want to decide ahead of time what an object could or couldn’t be. We were stuck for a while until we discovered the ShapeDiver online platform.
ShapeDiver enables Computational Designers to upload Grasshopper files to the web, so that designs can be modified by anyone around the world without the need of specialized software or plugins, just a web browser. That’s what we were missing!
With this platform it is possible to access all parameters from Grasshopper files and turn them into configurators with a 3D model display working in real time.
The platform allows a new and powerful connection between designers and end users. Instead of designers choosing a handful of different options, they can now offer virtually unlimited variations, enabling their users to co-design each product.
As an example, we will present our own work with our brand BLECAUTE. Here is a configurator for our first product to be uploaded to ShapeDiver, Bolhas Lamp:
Resize it, morph it and if you’re interested in acquiring one, don’t forget to write your name and email so that we can contact you with more info about your model.
In a future post, we will explain more about Bolhas, the creative process behind it, the visual programming workflow and how we manufacture each lamp.