Object vs. Population – 3d printed generative jewellery

infinite landscape of rings

Generative rings diagram

The radical view of the world and society is today mediated through advanced technological systems. Thanks to – or perhaps due to – such circumstances, the design seeks new ways of thinking and conceptualising, as well as producing objects and ideas. The role of the design today is inevitably prone to change. The informatization of the society and computer-aided design are opening a whole range of new ideas about the perception of time and space we live in. The algorithmic design is now based on new parameters: design of ideas, narratives, procedures, populations, digital production, and new understanding of the materiality. Generative design methods mean creation and modification of rules and systems, which then generate an autonomously designed object. The designer therefore does not manipulate the "artefact" itself, but rather the rules and systems which generate it. The designing process is happening on a meta-level, whereby the final manifestation of the object is the result of the defined system and rules.

Designing ideas

So far, the field of design belonged to the domain of dealing with a singular object, that is, the design understood the creation of a unique and specific "ideal" object, an approach which was closely related to the Modernist paradigm. The emphasis is today moving from the design of the object to the design of the idea. The new paradigm changes designer's relation to a static object by putting an emphasis on conceptualization, interaction of the components, systems, and processes that generate new objects with specific characteristics. What was once the design of a perfect unique object featuring specific materiality is today the design of a population of objects featuring any materiality. Instead of a specific object, the designer creates an algorithm. Elitism and exceptionalism contained in the idea of a singular object (e.g. golden ring) is replaced by the `individual populism` of generative objects. The key role in the design is taken over by generative systems that offer methodology and philosophical/theoretical worldview in the framework of dynamic processes. The result is an exceptional diversity of objects within a single "generation". The design process becomes an abstract definition of algorithms.

In the generative object design, the materiality is not a condition for the final manifestation of an object. The choice of material has so far served as the basis for determining the design process, and defined the expected execution of details, conjunctions and textures. Today, the generative system design enables the imposition of materiality to the object. The form which is not natural to a certain material can now be attached to it by the mere use of intellectual control. The absence of materiality parameter results in the emphasis shifting from tectonics to topology. Therefore, the objects, previously described by the fixed geometry, can now gain a relative geometry that can be rendered into reality via 3D printing. Its materiality is the last, almost arbitrary decision done by a designer.

The example of generative design of rings has been used to question and demonstrate the possibilities of such systems. The basic tenants of these objects are: the possibility of designing a whole population of objects of an unlimited diversity, and the possibility of designing in any material. While traditional jewellery design is characterized by uniqueness, hand-craft and noble materials, contemporary jewellery making relys on mass production and synthetic materials. Generative ring design merges the qualities of both by digitally producing the jewellery for the 21st century.