One moment, I’m looking at a fluid pattern of pink waves. I adjust a few sliders, and my screen is filled with neon green static. Either of these patterns could become a gorgeous new silk scarf for my wife. But they weren’t created by some famous fashion designer’s summer intern. I created them on my iPad in mere moments.
This is Generative Scarves, an iOS app by Paul Ferragut and Ann-Kristin Abel, that lets you use your iphone to generate abstract patterns on your iPhone or iPad and order them to be printed on a 47″x47″ piece of silk.
“At the start it was a creative coding experimentation,” Ferragut writes. “Playing and learning about shaders and generative algorithms. We had some fun with the patterns and enjoyed the endless possibilities it offered…but we wanted to use them in an unexpected context; wearables.”
Indeed, using algorithmic parameters–or software to create visual designs–isn’t a totally new idea. But more and more, we’re seeing coders and designers teaming up to build a software platform others can use to press a few buttons, pull a few sliders, and create a relatively good looking design.
Not long ago, design studio Ammunition created a logo using just this approach. A brand was created part by human software designer, part by software platform, part by a human using the platform itself. Ferragut and Abel are attempting to bring this same idea to clothing. And they believe that their two-person team is just the right size to make it happen.
“It would be an interesting step [for our audience] to evolve from just being a consumer to becoming a co-creator,” Ferragut explains. “We believe that especially small companies who are more flexible and more keen on taking risks to drive innovation will propose customization…Of course prices won’t be the same as mass produced items in foreign factories, but we would achieve a higher quality product and crafted value instead of quantity.”
The logic makes a lot of sense. A sizable audience isn’t an automatic solution to make consumer customizability affordable. Amazon’s trainwreck of a foray into mass marketing custom-designed 3-D printed objects is proof of this principle. If you’d like to order a Generative Scarf of your own, prices are yet to be determined, but we’re told they’ll be on par with other high end scarves.