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Digital lab will mix technology, creativity for evolved design

Digital lab will mix technology,
creativity for evolved design

by RICHARD JACOB, master planner, Gensler | Sep 20, 2015

Technology has transformed the way people live their day-to-day lives, but it has yet to fully change the way designers and architects design spaces.

The humble pencil is still the fastest and most efficient way to describe and flesh out the ideas that begin in the mind’s eye. CAD programs are currently unable to match the brain-to-eye-to-hand interaction that takes place between a designer and a sheet of paper. So at the initial concept stage, the pencil is still mightier than the mouse.

But what happens when a designer is knee deep in the design? How will they work through all the technical and logistical challenges that spring from that initial pencil sketch? 

Ourbanity Master Plan study by Ben Minton can be easily optimized for the designer’s aspirations. Image © Gensler

Ourbanity Master Plan study by Ben Minton can be easily optimized for the designer’s aspirations. Image © Gensler

This is where digital design tools can and ARE changing the way we design for the better. They can be used to quickly develop options, parametric designs, experiments, and tests that we no longer have the time to do free hand or with basic CAD. These tools can never replace the role of a designer. Instead they can allow designers to focus more on the actual design rather than become consumed by monotonous tasks that stifle creativity. 

Creating a point where the freedom of design and the application of digital tools combine harmoniously to ensure each project reaches the very best it can be is what we call the point of Evolved Design. It allows designers to concentrate on the emotive, inspiring, creative, and joyous elements of design, to create stimulating places to live, work and play. It also automates the statistical, analytical and objective aspects of the design process.

To help designers in the London office embrace these digital design tools we formed the DigitaLAB group. The group will promote Evolved Design and various tools available. DigitaLAB recently held an EVOLUTION 2014 exhibition in the office. This successful event allowed the team to launch its vision for the future of digital design by showcasing how designers can utilize digital tools to explore their imagination in new and unexpected ways.

‘Untitled ’ laser-cut sculpture by Rong Wang uses design tools to create an image of Marylyn Monroe with nothing more than shadows.  Image © Gensler 

‘Untitled ’ laser-cut sculpture by Rong Wang uses design tools to create an image of Marylyn Monroe with nothing more than shadows.  Image © Gensler 

The DigitaLAB will look for new and exciting opportunities to connect with clients, end users, and other designers as well as software and hardware developers. With this in mind, we have created a manifesto to assist us with our mission:

  1. We will champion designers over tools, not tools over designers;
  2. We will future-proof the role of designers by being at the forefront of digital design;
  3. We will aim to save time and increase efficiency in the design process;
  4. We will create design adaptability, allow for infinite patterns of growth and change as design evolves;
  5. We will allow designers to express freedom, originality and inspiration in their work;
  6. We will balance realism and optimism to arrive at the naturally best-adapted design solution;
  7. We will streamline the design process to make mundane tasks fast and effortless;
  8. We will compress and coordinate statistical and analytical information to give designers the best information on design parameters;
  9. We will strive for the best design within the project’s constraints.

But most importantly….DigitaLAB is here to EVOLVE DESIGN. Through a series of blog posts, we will be sharing our views on the evolution of digital design and why it is here to stay.

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Based in London, the author is an award-winning architect and designer with substantial international experience in master planning, urban design, 3D visualization and digital rendering. He is also the standards manager for the MDD3 Team, a global group of over 100 individuals from numerous design firms.  Email: richard_jacob@gensler.com

This first appeared earlier this month at the GenslerOn Cities blog.

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