I’m lovin’ me some algorithms. I’ve actually become so interested in them it’s affected my posting frequency and I’m starting to see domino-like creatures forming beautiful patterns in my numerically challenged nightmares.

An algorithmic approach to design. Boring huh? Well, the results these patterns of numerical data create are the most amazingly fluid and kinetically pleasing designs you’ll feast your eyes upon.

Every once in a while…
I come across a topic that is so interesting I’m not sure quite how to approach it. 3D visualization is one of those. Then you throw algorithms into the mix and how these designs are actually created and the geeked-out obsession begins. The outcome of a program is cool, but how the programming and code that helps create it is kinda boring. It’s like this site… but more purposeful and with fewer obscure references.

So, here’s the cool stuff. The outcome. The visual display of algorithms is spread across the areas of architecture and design to art and manufacturing. Take it all in. Soak it up. Learn. Obsess and become inspired.

Jewelry Design
Design firm Nervous System uses Processing to create organic shapes for jewelry. They’ve been fully featured on Ponoko and recently mentioned on the Popular Science blog. This certainly is not the most animated of the bunch but it shows how the raw capabilities of Processing can be used in simple design to bring manufactured products to consumers. The Physics Engine is used to generate the hexagonal mesh patterns. You can try it out here.

BMW Museum
ART+COM created this kinetic exhibit for the BMW Museum in Munich, Germany. You may remember the BMW Cloth Concept Car that resides there as well. The Kinetic sculpture uses 714 metal balls that “translates a virtual design process into the space around it.” Here’s a video and a Hi-res version as well.

50MB Hi-res Quicktime

Flare Facade
You have to see the video of this unique exterior building facade. It shows exactly how the mechanics of the system work and what is being done to create the endless configurations of surface animations. It’s just an incredible union between light, shape, mechtronics and programming to achieve a purposeful design.

More on Processing
Processing is an open-source programming language to help people visualize algorithms as interactions, images and animated effects. It’s used most often for creating visualizations to see how physical simulations would look. It also allows a multitude of ways to visualize information.

Have you come across algorithms displayed in design? They’re used to some degree in many cases and are more evident in others. What is the potential in 3D CAD design?


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.