Journal Article
Shapes and Other Things

Shape grammars have offered a unique computational theory of design over the past forty or so years. Although the focus of shape grammar theory has been on shapes and designs, the material objects or things that might comply with shapes have also been considered. In this paper, I trace the history of approaches for specifying material properties and things through shape grammars. I identify early trends and their limitations, and then propose a new possibility. In early approaches, material things were viewed through the lens of shapes. I argue for a new approach in which shapes are viewed through the lens of material things. Shape grammars are adapted to define making grammars for computing things. Shapes are just one of many things that can be made with these grammars. I conclude with a discussion of the relationship of designing and making, and suggest that designing is a kind of making.

Title
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsKnight T
JournalNexus
Date Published08/2015
Abstract

Shape grammars have offered a unique computational theory of design over the past forty or so years. Although the focus of shape grammar theory has been on shapes and designs, the material objects or things that might comply with shapes have also been considered. In this paper, I trace the history of approaches for specifying material properties and things through shape grammars. I identify early trends and their limitations, and then propose a new possibility. In early approaches, material things were viewed through the lens of shapes. I argue for a new approach in which shapes are viewed through the lens of material things. Shape grammars are adapted to define making grammars for computing things. Shapes are just one of many things that can be made with these grammars. I conclude with a discussion of the relationship of designing and making, and suggest that designing is a kind of making.

DOI10.1007/s00004-015-0267-3