Evolve Ring Silver launches today
Evolve rings where commissioned and are distributed by Fluid Forms. I have co-designed them together with Krystian Kwiecinski and they are available for purchase since today. They where designed with an aid of an artificial selection in genetic algorithm (GA). I have developed the phenotype together with Krystian and then wrote a purpose-built GA tool for breeding, rather than designing products in Processing. We will convert the GA tool into a configurator for mass customization of the rings. It should become available on Fluid Forms site early in 2010. Below is an explanation of the roots of evolutionary approach in design, which I wrote for the purpose of the launch.
Roots of the Evolve ring generative design process
Today Darwinian model of evolution by natural selection is widely acknowledged. It assumes that a new generation of individuals within a given specie inherits properties of these individuals from the previous generation, which where the most fit to survive. Fitness to survival is always evaluated within a given environment. It is not objective, but a subject to particular conditions which the individual happened to find itself in.
On a metaphorical level, theorists has refereed to evolution of culture, societies and products that they develop. Philip Steadman’s “The Evolution of Designs” from 1979 is a great roadmap of evolutionary metaphor in reference to any kind of artifacts, including designer objects and architecture. Bashford Dean’s study of historical evolution of helmet design or Lane-Fox’s and Pitt-Rivers’ tracing of evolutionary relationships of Australian weapons are just some of the examples discussed in Steadman’s influential book.
With the dawn of computing, evolution could become an applied tool used for seeking answers to particular problems rather than a conceptual model only. Survival of the fittest has been a source of inspiration for developers of “evolutionary algorithms”, which enable navigation through vast spaces of potential solutions in any imaginable field from marketing to transportation. They also help find solutions which are a best fit for given criteria, even if these are very complex and somewhat contradictory. The art world was quick to adapt the notion of evolution and survival of the fittest, but engineering was as well. In the art world William Latham imagined artists growing artworks rather than creating them already in 1985.
Later his renowned collaboration with IBM’s Stephen Todd led to development of the software called “Mutator”. The software literally enabled Latham to breed his sculptures just like the gardener breeds plants. In this case the individual most fit to survive is the one the artist likes the most. The possibility of breeding jewelry is also mentioned in Latham’s and Todd’s contribution to Evolutionary Design by Computers edited by Peter Bentley.
This is in contrast to application of evolution in engineering, where aesthetics do not have a significant impact on the validity of the solution. What is important in this case is performance. An example is the work of dr Peter Bentley and Stephen Manos on optimization of Holey optical fibres. These fibres are able to transmit light on large distances and their capacities are greatly enhanced by small air holes running through their entire length. Question was what shape, size and number of the wholes provides a fibre with best transmission capacity? Looking for an answer with evolutionary computation likely took millions of solutions to develop, but as the process was automated the time lapse was not so big and the results where rewarding.
Evolve ring brings evolution to the design world, not as a metaphor, but as a design tool. In design, aesthetics plays a crucial role, but the design has to be valid from a manufacturing stand point as well. This is why an algorithm used by Michal Piasecki and Krystian Kwiecinski is an amalgam of the GA from the art world and from the engineering world. Michal and Krystian developed a parametric phenotype first. Later Michal unleashed the process of evolution of jewelry and guided it towards the designs, which became the Evolve rings designer’s series from Fluid Forms. These pieces are breed, not designed.
Filed under: 01 design, 05 programming, scripting, parametric modeling, digital fabrication, evolutionary algorithms, generative design, genetic algorithms, mass customization, printing in 3d, processing | 3 Comments
Tags: Fluid Forms, GA, jewelry, Krystian Kwiecinski, ring