The cry of the bard in the half-light
Is chaos bruised into form

Ezra Pound, Ballad of Wine Skins


From the movie L.A. Identity and Morphogenetic Visionary Architecture with Nathan Shapira, Ricardo Gomes and Celestino Soddu, 2003.
In this first part of the movie a talk with Nathan Shapira, professor of design at UCLA, in the beach of Santa Monica in 2003, The possibility to use generative design in intelligent production of new “natural” and un-repeatable objects was discussed. In a next issue of Gasathj, the second part of the movie, with a discussion about generative processes at Nathan Shapira office.

Generative Design
Generative Design is a morphogenetic process using algorithms structured as not-linear systems for endless unique and un-repeatable results performed by an idea-code, as in Nature. (C.Soddu 1992)
Following this vision, each generative project is structured with a paradigm able to manage the process by controlling the topological complexity and its evolution and with a set of transforming algorithms able to manage in progress the design process of each event inside the paradigm and of the whole system. This transforming process operates increasing the complexity together with identity, feasibility and ability to answer to unpredictable subjective requests of unknown customers. Results are, obviously, a sequence of variations, all recognizable as belonging to a vision, to a identifiable idea. In other words, Generative Design operates like Nature, creating the transforming matrixes of our vision as artificial DNA for "bruising chaos into form".

Generative Design, my bench-marks.
My Generative Design experimental activities start up in 1988, with the first Basilica software able to generate architectures and cities. The first project was the DNA of Italian medieval towns, able to generate an infinite series of different 3d models of Medieval Towns, all different but all belonging to a recognizable character coming from my interpretation of Giotto and Simone Martini artworks (book: C.Soddu, Citta' Aleatorie, Gangemi publisher, 1989). In 1992 I designed the first Argenia, a generative design software able to generate objects, like chairs. Each generated result was unpredictable and "new" but strongly characterized by my own design vision (book: C.Soddu, E.Colabella, Il progetto ambientale di morfogenesi. codici genetici dell'artificiale, Progetto Leonardo publisher, 1992). In 2001 I experimented with the direct relationship between my Argenia software and industrial devices, generating in real-time STL 3D models of chairs directly produced by rapid prototyping devices. 
In recent years I moved from a high-personal software to a generative software more oriented to different possible users that can directly perform their own artificial DNA. Argenia is able to generate different functional objects/architectures following subjective visions. Argenia generative software was already used for generating cars, baroque architectures, UFO, chairs, lamps, street lamps and many other different events.

Generative Design today.
Finally generative design is finding its proper field in our next future. From technology to digital civilization. The revolution came from the generative approach theoretically and experimentally performed in the last 25 years. The vision of generative design as meta-project strongly linked to real-time production is today widely available because of the technology of new 3D printers that the main printer companies are launching in the market. These devices dramatically decreased their cost and are able to print objects using resistant and really fine materials. 
In the next months each of us will be able to purchase objects on the web, to download their "solid" files (STL files) for physically printing them in our home and directly using them in our life. 
We will start downloading small objects, like lamps, shoes, cups, toys and we will be able to download spare parts for our car able to fit our own model and transform our car in an unpredictable and subjective way. 
The generative approach to design, with the possibility to generate endless variations, each one unique and un-repeatable, will soon be the new frontier of design and of market competition. No more “cloned” and “copied” objects but, with a generative approach, we will experiment with a new power of creativity and design. 
My actual experimentation with Generative Design works generating online in real time the solid files of new, unique and unpredictable objects, downloadable by people only one time. This possibility will be a revolution in our way to buy. We will be able to fit the uniqueness of our objects with the uniqueness of our life.

In the images, a series of cars (2011), chairs (1992-2007), rings (2001) and coffeepots (2000) generated by C.Soddu using Argenia.
An example of a chair directly generated into a WebGL HTML file following interactive online requests (only WebGL enabled browsers as Chrome):


Generated coffee pots and chairs

Generated cars

notes about Generative Design Philosophy and Process:
From my paper "Generative Design. A swimmer in a natural sea frame” presentad at GA2006, IX Generative Art International Conference, www.generativeart.com(external link) :

Generative Design is a logical synthesis of a creative process using transformation rules (algorithms). It can be realized designing a program able to simulate this process and to generate outputs as 3D models of architecture, cities, objects. As with all creative processes, it involves subjectivity in the definition of how the process runs and how the transforming rules are created and organized into a system. 
As in all creative processes two main factors are involved: the unpredictability of external factors linked to each design occasion, like the environmental context and client’s requests, and the subjectivity of designers when they interpret these external factors. 
It can be realized designing a program able to simulate this process and to generate outputs as 3D models of architecture, cities, objects.
 
Morphogenetic Meta-Project versus Project
Generative Design could be represented like a morphogenetic meta-project, an organized idea of “how to run” a design process. In the sixties, meta-projects were the structure of organization of incoming projects. They were constructed with the aim of identifying the best structure to answer to “objective” functional needs. It was not possible to fully develop this kind of approach because functional needs, extended to practice functions but also to symbolic and aesthetical functions, are strongly related to the subjectivity of customers and to the subjectivity of designers. 
Generative Design is a meta-project with two fundamental extension: 
1. it involves subjectivities going more in depth into the complexity of (architectural, town environment, industrial objects…) designed artificial systems. 
2. it can run the design process a lot of times, being sensible to little variations of inputs (similar to the different feel of the designer in different moments) and it can generate a sequence of endless results, all different but all related to the designer’s idea.
Process versus Output
Generative Design, as a subjective operative meta-project, can be used to design a kind of artificial object, an artificial DNA of a species of objects because it is oriented to set up a process and not only to reach one result. Moreover, it defines and renders explicit all the steps of a “normal” design process, from the first sketch to the final executive project. And, in this way, it’s a wonderful support for teaching (architectural and industrial) design.

You can find the full paper at:
http://www.soddu.it/papers/soddu_GA2006.htm(external link)

Generated "battle" rings (C.Soddu 2001). These rings were generated in wax using rapid prototyping devices and constructed in gold using the lost-wax casting. Each ring is unique.