March 27th, 2018

I love creating generative systems that create visual variation from a number of set elements. As a child I was obsessed with kaleidoscopes and had access to a couple of glass prisms and mirrors, they provided me with endless fun. Not much has changed in terms of interest but my medium of choice has and my appetite and awareness of the potential for developing and producing interactive design systems that harness complexity and permutation with ease has developed.

This article discusses something I made partnering with Grammar Studio.

I can now design and produce generative systems from scratch and generate computational imagery that has the kind of visual complexity that either mimics what is found in nature (symmetry, spirals, fractals, tessellation) or systems that create manufactured synthetic or an aesthetic that is natively computational in nature.

For a while I've been making a concerted effort to embed these systems in new contexts and studying what other people are doing with it. In a two dimensional design context, when you consider a graphic designer would have to hand place and move 1000 elements by hand to create something with a lot of visual complexity, I could do that same thing with variation and decision making for each element, a hundred thousand times over in a matter of seconds, by writing a system that does it for me.

The context most readily available and accessible to me is to create imagery that would be used to adorn products and bespoke objects. Although I'm not at liberty to discuss the placements I've already explored for clients due to commercial sensitivity, here is a development detail on something I made with Grammar Studio.

The principle system at play here is a program I've written that lets you interactively place a design element using scale, rotation, spacing and then applies a number of programmatic and predesignated effects to the resulting composition.

I don't personally regard any of this as being particularly special, even designing the system itself isn't the most complex thing for me. What is special I think is showing a fairly skilled designer the application of it and embedding it in an appropriate context and format that they would find useful. The potential for showing variation and experimenting with visual design elements that otherwise wouldn't be arranged in that particular fashion is the essence of computational design.