Input + Output

Harnessing Generative Design and Creative Technology

The Dance of Design

At Snøhetta, our approach doesn't merely embrace design as an output; we perceive it as an artifact embedded in the ongoing social narrative. It's a conversation between the past and the present, new ideas, and inevitably, new technologies that shape our world.

At the core of our approach lies the convergence of contextual understanding, technology, and sensory exploration. Using AI as a catalyst for human creativity has become integral to our approach. Recent research and insights highlight AI’s prowess in handling a substantial portion of tasks we carry out today, while recognizing the continued importance of human involvement and expertise for the rest. Even within the creative industry, significant changes are anticipated. We’ll need to adopt new creative approaches in the future, and that prospect is thrilling.

Inherently, our process involves disrupting digital workflows and nurturing designs firmly grounded in tangible environments. We also actively explore design ideation through creative coding, combining generative algorithms and technology to create contextually significant designs based on relevant parameters and inputs.

The Power of Generative Design

We view generative design not as a substitute for creativity, but as a testament to the evolution of design methodologies. It introduces a dynamic process for ideation, creation and communication. When consciously applied, generative design transforms the design process from predictive analysis to an exploratory expression, inherently enabling flexible and dynamic realization, as well as a new level of storytelling, whether in digital or physical outtakes.

The historical trajectory of generative design spans from architecture to intricate mechanical engineering, evolving from an abstract concept to a transformative revolution in design thinking and implementation. At Snøhetta, we truly experience how diverse disciplines employ similar algorithmic approaches, crafting innovative, relevant, and realizable designs across varying scales and materiality.

Curiosity and Adaptability

Championing curiosity over expertise, we embrace emerging technologies to uncover new territories. In this dynamic landscape, generative design is a catalyst for creating meaningful connections between brands, environments, and people.

Photo: Kim Andre Fosslien Ottesen

AI as Co-creator

In our latest explorations, we've been diving into the realm of generative artificial intelligence and machine learning, exploring AI's role as a co-creator. Recent examples are the launch of the Bokhus bookshelf during Milan Design Week and the newly launched identity for Collective Oslo. This journey has sparked a wave of new ideas and invigorated our approach. Through extensive testing and learning, we've realized that generative AI offers more than its conventional uses.

Rather than confining AI solely to generating images or text, we’ve begun seeing it as a collaborative tool – a partner that inspires fresh ways of working and generating ideas. We view this a mutual dialogue, where both sides inspire and add to each others process, embracing the unexpected inputs and outputs. This shift in perspective has expanded our possibilities, allowing machines to actively participate as creative collaborators. And as with all our other tools, finding unintended ways of use, is a compelling prospect.

Our bespoke soundscape generator on our own website. The generator creates a new way of experiencing Snøhetta's projects, playing an infinite mix of ambient music mixed with recordings from the site. The soundscape generator picks up the five most dominant colours in an image, as well as one random. The chosen colours is then translated to a random note, octave and note duration through the HSB values of the colour (hue, saturation and brightness). 

Generative Experiments

On our own webpage, the fusion of creative technology and sensory aspects unfolds through several experiments, like our bespoke soundscape generator. This tool harnesses the most prominent colors from the images in a case presentation, and generates a custom soundscape based on the imagery combined with recorded sounds from real landscapes or buildings, establishing an intimate connection with some of Snøhetta's most pivotal projects.

For Seabird Technologies we infused the storytelling with visual and motion design elements, cultivating a distinct visual texture, and granting digital surfaces a tangible quality. This deliberate approach infuses the digital realm with a sensation akin to interacting with physical materials, giving a sense of authentic essence.

The Peder Lund identity dynamically responding to different formats and channels exemplifies how a brand can adapt to diverse contexts effortlessly. And the collaboration with Recreate shows how a flexible visual identity, driven by a powerful and dynamic symbol, can be brought to life – generated from relevant input aligned with the company’s purpose.

Tailoring codes to conceptualize fresh visual identities, is something we did for companies like Grette, a corporate law firm, and The Norwegian Soloists' Choir, already in 2017-18. Back then, exploring an algorithmic approach and generative visualization tools, our objective was clear: to encapsulate distinct qualities of individuals within a group while portraying their collective essence, resulting in two distinct brand representations that are both dynamic and constantly evolving – still today.

Curating Creative Intelligence

The evolving relationship between human creativity and machine-generated potential is shaping the trajectory of design, enabling us to explore uncharted territories beyond conventional imagination. Nurturing a flexible and inquisitive mindset ensures our creative practice evolves in tandem with – or collaboratively alongside – generative and creative technologies.

Amid the ever-unfolding landscape of emerging digital technologies, fostering curiosity, exploration, and ongoing dialogue stands as a pivotal design attitude. While AI serves as a valuable co-pilot in idea generation, we acknowledge the indispensable role of human touch. As designers, it falls upon us to imbue these ideas with humanity, ensuring they hold genuine value, depth, and originality.

We stand as custodians of the quality in AI-generated outputs, emphasizing the need to craft solutions that transcend mere replication and possess inherent significance.