Nervous System

generative designers
Nervous System
Somerville, MA
We created Nervous System to explore a design approach that relates process and form in a context of interactivity and openness. Our trajectory focuses on generative design methods using both algorithmic and physical tools to create innovative products and environments.

Formally we are attracted to complex and unconventional geometries. Our inspirations are grounded in the natural forms and corresponding processes which construct the world around us. From coral aggregations to interference patterns, a study of natural phenomena is an essential ingredient to our design process.

To evolve such forms, we systematically engage in generative processes. Instead of designing a specific form, we craft a system whose result is a myriad of distinct creations. These systems are interactive, responding both to changes in specific variables and to physical inputs. There is no definitive, final product, instead the many designs created allow for mass customization.

Our studio exploits this possibility by releasing our work online as a series of interactive applets which customers can use to craft their own personalized products. We use manufacturing methods that do not require large facilities or massive manual labor. Often we employ rapid prototyping methods by which all unique pieces can be manufactured at the same cost as cookie cutter ones.
Laplacian Growth #1
8" x 8" x 8"
Selectively Laser Sintered Nylon
2011
Laplacian Growth #1 is an instance of growth using a model of 3D isotropic dendritic solidification. The form is grown in a simulation based on crystal solidification in a supercooled environment.

This piece is part of a series exploring the concept of laplacian growth. Laplacian growth involves a structure which expands at a rate proportional to the gradient of a laplacian field. Under the right circumstances, this leads to instabilities causing intricate, fractal branching structure to emerge. This type of growth can be seen in a myriad of systems, including crystal growth, dielectric breakdown, corals, Hele-Shaw cells, and random matrix theory. This series of works aims to examine the space of structure generated by these systems.
Seed
10.5" x 10.5" x 9.6"
Selectively Laser Sintered Nylon
2011
Seed plays with reaction-diffusion at different scales to produce an organic effect. Reaction-diffusion models a system of chemicals or other agents that diffuse and react with one another. These systems can exhibit emergent behavior where a random or uniform initial condition develops into a stable, macroscopic pattern.

A simple sphere grows into a complex sculpted surface by layering reaction patterns at a micro and macro scale. The larger scale pattern creates the overall topography of the lamp while the smaller scale modulates the surface thickness to reveal a cellular texture when lit. Anisotropic diffusion is used to sculpt the overall movement of the piece while maintaining the underlying structure of the reaction-diffusion system.

We were inspired by microscopic images of seeds where both the overall shape of the seed and the cells of which it is composed are visible.
Hyphae #1
5.3" x 5.2" x 7.5"
Selectively Laser Sintered Nylon
2011
Hyphae is based on a simulation of the formation of leaf veins. The branching, cellular form was created using a space colonization algorithm developed by Runions, et al (2005). We extended this system to grow on 3D surfaces.