Design Trends in 2014 and Beyond
By Chatcharn Sutthipisal, Country manager of Autodesk Thailand
Autodesk is changing the way the world is designed and made. We track and drive significant design technology trends, to make sure that our customers have the best design tools and are equipped for the future. Here are some of trends that are keeping Autodesk and our customers busy and intrigued about the future of making things.
- Humans and robots working together: Today robots are being fed big data, analytics and machine learning. Robotics will evolve into collaborative robotics, with humans playing a proactive role and working alongside robots. For example, Bloomberg reported that Toyota is becoming more efficient by replacing some robots with craftspeople: “Humans are taking the place of machines in plants across Japan so workers can develop new skills and figure out ways to improve production lines and the car-building process.” At Autodesk, we feel optimistic about a future where humans and robots collaborate and learn from each other. You can find out more from Autodesk Tech Futurist Jordan Brandt in his PechaKucha talk “Teaching our Machines to Design”.
- Generative design: This is one of the most exciting times to be a designer. What if a computer-aided design (CAD) system could automatically generate tens, hundreds, or even thousands of design options that all meet your specific design criteria? It’s no longer what if: its Autodesk’s Project Dreamcatcher, the next generation of computational design. Dreamcatcher is a generative design system that lets designers input design objectives, including functional requirements, material type, manufacturability, performance criteria, and cost parameters. The power of the cloud then takes over. This doesn’t replace the designer—far from it. It does the grunt work, processing and evaluating design tradeoffs at a speed impossible for humans. Dreamcatcher can free up the designer to innovate and create—to move away from repetitive design tasks and calculations and instead focus on creative design. This is cloud computing in its purest form; true computing rather than simple file storage. The required computing power was previously available only to institutional and government agencies with supercomputers – it’s now on the verge of being available to everyone.
- Living buildings and bespoke materials: New materials and building typologies are being made possible through computer-aided design. In the future, most buildings and products will be made of bespoke materials, requiring today’s global standards like ISO to evolve. For example, David Benjamin, founding principal of the design and research studio The Living, is collaborating with plant biologists at the University of Cambridge in England to grow new composite materials from bacteria. The Living is also harnessing live mussels to detect water quality in the East River and relay environmental conditions to the public. In 2014, The Living delivered Hy-Fi, Benjamin’s winning installation for the Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA’s) Young Architects Program competition, to build a project in its PS1 courtyard in Queens, N.Y. The temporary installation involved a 40-foot-tall tower with 10,000 bricks made entirely of compostable materials—corn stalks and mushrooms—developed in collaboration with innovative materials company Ecovative.
- Biotech is the next info tech: Biotech is the use of living systems and organisms to develop products. It’s one of the fastest-growing sectors of the global economy. The pharma industry is suffering because product development takes longer and has rising costs. Synthetic biology based on digital design tools could help by making biotechnology more accessible to more innovators. There are implications for engineering new medications, materials and food faster. There is an emerging community of young, entrepreneurial biological designers who are making incredible breakthroughs, including: RevBio’s color-changing flowers “Petunia Circadia”, Muufri’s animal-free milk derived from cow proteins, and Hyasynth exploring the use of cannabinoids to treat multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and other diseases.
- Design tech is enabling nano-to-meter scale breakthroughs: Autodesk is working with scientists, academia and customers on cross-scale design projects, from molecular biology to tissue engineering to self-assembling human-scale manufacturing. We are researching the intersection of programmable (bio, nano) matter and design spaces such as manufacturing, construction and digital entertainment. Life and other forms of programmable matter are successfully being reprogrammed and can be conceived as emergent design spaces. For example, Autodesk is working with partners to support their efforts to program nano-scale machines to fight cancer.
Autodesk helps people imagine, design and create a better world. Everyone—from design professionals, engineers and architects to digital artists, students and hobbyists—uses Autodesk software to unlock their creativity and solve important challenges. For more information visit autodesk.com or follow @autodesk.