We've seen a number of new technologies emerge in the design sector, mainly ones that focus on 3D printing techniques and virtual reality. But while those technologies have made the process easier, they haven't been designing products themselves. Until now.

WIRED's Margaret Rhodes profiles Arthur Harsuvanakit and Brittany Presten of Autodesk’s generative design lab, who let algorithms design this new Elbo chair. While they had ideas about how the chair should look, they let a majority of the work be done by the software.

In the case of the Elbo, Harsuvanakit and Presten collaborated with Dreamcatcher, Autodesk’s generative design CAD system. They fed the software a digital, 3-D model of a chair inspired by Hans Wegner’s iconic Round Chair and the Lambda Chair, from the design studio Berkeley Mills. Then, they stipulated how much weight the chair must support and insisted that the arms clear a human body. With that, Dreamcatcher started iterating.

Harsuvanakit calls the Elbo a collaboration between human and machine. Dreamcatcher might spin out solutions a designer might not think of, but at a certain point the human mind overrides the algorithm. The look and feel of the final object did not originate in the designer’s mind, but it requires his sign-off.

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