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Computational Design: The Future of How We Make Things is Tech-Driven

Humans are taking a backseat to machines in how we make things. Meet computational design, which uses mass computing power, algorithms, and data to design.
Visual Capitalist creates and curates enriched visual content focused on emerging trends in business and investing. Founded in 2011 in Vancouver, the team at Visual Capitalist believes that art, data, and storytelling can be combined in a manner that makes complex issues and processes more digestible. Covering high-growth opportunities and industries such as technology, mining, and energy, Visual Capitalist reaches millions of investors each year. Visual Capitalist’s infographics have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Zero Hedge, Maclean’s, Gizmodo, The Vancouver Sun, and Business Insider.
Visual Capitalist creates and curates enriched visual content focused on emerging trends in business and investing. Founded in 2011 in Vancouver, the team at Visual Capitalist believes that art, data, and storytelling can be combined in a manner that makes complex issues and processes more digestible. Covering high-growth opportunities and industries such as technology, mining, and energy, Visual Capitalist reaches millions of investors each year. Visual Capitalist’s infographics have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Zero Hedge, Maclean’s, Gizmodo, The Vancouver Sun, and Business Insider.

Computational Design: The Future of How We Make Things is Tech-Driven

Future Design is Computational

Design is always changing, and never stagnant.

In the late 20th century, it was the emergence of Design Thinking that upended how architects, engineers, and industrial design organizations made decisions about how to make new things.

Now, the rapid pace of technological advancement has brought forth a new design methodology that will again forever alter the course of design history. Computational design, which takes advantage of mass computing power, machine learning, and large amounts of data, is changing the fundamental role of humans in the design process.

Designing with Millions of Data Points

Today’s infographic comes to us from Schneider Electric, and it looks at how the future of design will be driven by data and processing power.

While computational design is still a term with no real consensus, attempts to define it do have overlap:

Parameter setting
Algorithmic, “rules-based” code can be applied as constraints to test a wide variety of computer-driven designs

3d modelling and visualization tools
Complex 3d models can allow designers to test and create simulations for new ideas

Processing power
Using vast amounts of computational power and automation to make designs not before possible

Designing with data
Applying big data and powerful algorithms to create new designs

Generative design
By creating, testing, and analyzing thousands of design permutations, this approach mimics mother nature’s evolutionary path to design

While designers traditionally rely on intuition and experience to solve design problems, computational design is a new design methodology that can literally produce hundreds or thousands of design permutations to find the absolute best solution to a problem.

The Shifting Roles of Humans and Computers

Throughout history, humans have shaped the world with design.

But now that artificial intelligence is superior in taking on specific roles within the design process, humans will move towards shaping the things that shape the world.

Designers will be relinquishing control to technology, so that humans can do what they do best.

In other words, in the future, designers will work less on designing – and instead will supervise, mentor, and set the parameters for computational designs. Human designers would also interact with a broader group of stakeholders as additional inputs and the frequency of interactions increase.

A New Design Landscape

Disruption to traditional design methods brings more questions than answers:

  • How will this change the value chain for design companies and professionals?
  • Will AI-enabled computational design tools take the “craft” out of design?
  • If automated design “assets” become commercial commodities, will that create new product and revenue channels for businesses?
  • Who will own and manage all of this data, and does this create new roles and opportunities for companies?

As we give machines more design autonomy, it will be interesting to see how this literally changes the shape and design of objects that make up the real world.