Design synthesis and shape generation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Leeds University Business School (LUBS)


Currently available computer aided design systems enable the creation of digital product definitions. Digital product definitions are created after the bulk of [shape] designing has been finished because their creation requires a detailed knowledge of the shape that is to be defined. They offer benefits in two key areas: (1) they provide information to support (and sometimes au tomate) downstream processes such as analysis and manufacturing, and (2) incorporating changes in them is significantly faster and more reliable than in paper-based equivalents. The research that resulted in such systems was at its peak in the 1980's. It focused on the mathematics of the computational geometry that underpins today's computer aided design systems and on how shape, and related product information, is best represented for use in such systems.

We envisage a future where computer aided design systems enhance the act of designing products as opposed to, as is the case today, the process of defining product designs. The achievement of this vision requires research on how designers generate shapes and how shape computation systems might augment designers without impinging upon their creativity. This project will explore ways in which designers generate shapes in three design disciplines: art & design, architecture and consumer product design. By linking the search of the design space with grammatical representations to model, generate and move within this space, it is anticipated that insights into potential interplays between shape computation technologies and design practices will be gained.


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Title Chase S, Lim S, 2008, 'Design Synthesis and Shape Generation' 
Description Poster in Strathclyde University Research Day that included both academics and non-academics in the audience. 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2008 
Impact Research Day that included both academics and non-academics in the audience. 
Title DSSG demo video 
Description Video demonstrating DSSG vision and software prototype 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2010 
Impact Development of the vision contributed to the development of a follow-on grant: Designing with Vision 
Title Exhibit for New Designers 2007 
Description Exhibit produced by Leeds Product Design Masters students on how they had used project software and ideas to inform the design of Martini glasses in response to a Bombay Sapphire student design competition 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2007 
Impact The exhibit was seen by visitors to New Designers exhibition - 6th form students, industry and others 
Description Leverhulme Trust
Amount £200,000 (GBP)
Funding ID UNK 
Organisation The Leverhulme Trust 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2009 
End 06/2011
Title Data set from the experiments with designers 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Title Shape detector demonstrator 
Description Downloadable software prototype intended for use in research and education. The software uses Haussdorf Distance to embed subshapes into 2D designers' sketches enabling the automatic application of shape grammar rules. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2010 
Impact The software tool has been used in student education at Leeds to over 50 Product Design Master students and to support workshops with students in Spain. 
Description Conference workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact DCC 10 workshop. "SHAPE GRAMMAR IMPLEMENTATION: FROM THEORY TO USEABLE SOFTWARE" Sunday 11th July 2010, 14.00-17.30.

Led to AIEDAM paper on Spatial Grammars and their implementation
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010