"Cupid, draw back your bow and let your arrow flow." - Sam Cooke, 1961.
Project Dreamcatcher allows designers to specify functional requirements like material type, manufacturing method, performance criteria, and cost restrictions, and based on these design requirements, Dreamcatcher searches a procedurally synthesized design space to evaluate a vast number of generated designs for satisfying the design requirements. The resulting design alternatives are presented back to the designer along with the performance data of each solution. The designer can then select the alternative based on the performance data or other factors such as aesthetics. In other words, instead of modeling a design by hand, analyzing it, failing, and iteratively updating the design by hand until it passes the analysis, Project Dreamcatcher generates designs and shows them to the designer who can pick one. As noted by Autodesk Senior Principal Research Scientist, Dr. Erin Bradner, "This is important research because today, and increasingly in the future, the number of constraints affecting a given design project challenge the capacity of even the most experienced designers and engineers to address. With Dreamcatcher, designers can use the computer to calculate multiple trade-off scenarios that would otherwise not be possible to consider."
Pier 9 is our office in San Francisco where our employees make things. For example, it's home to our Instructables team. Our CEO, Carl Bass, established Pier 9 so that Autodesk employees could imagine, design, and create places, things, and media using our software. If employees design, make, and use just like customers, they will be better prepared to provide solutions for them. Pier 9 features a 3D print shop, CNC shop, electronics lab, metal shop, textiles shop, test kitchen, and wood shop. To bastardize a line from the "New York, New York" song, "If I can't make it there, I can't make it anywhere."
Charlie Nordstrom is our Pier 9 Digital Storyteller. I recently got this email from Charlie.
One of the greatest things about working at Pier 9 is seeing the countless partnerships that develop between people from a wide array of backgrounds. Fervent curiosity and an openness to experiment seem to break down normal barriers between disciplines. The lines between art, programming, fashion, architecture, design, etc. become quite blurry.
Case in point: an artist, designer and archery enthusiast, John Briscella, partnered with a cutting edge generative design software group (Project Dreamcatcher) to reimagine the design of a tool which has remained relatively unchanged for thousands of years (the recurve bow). This amazing partnership not only inspired John to take his design to the limits but also pushed the Project Dreamcatcher group to adapt their software. It's inspiring to see how clearly an artist can affect software design at Autodesk — and the other way around as well.
Check out the video to learn more about this story:
Love is alive in the lab.