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Computational Design from Architecture to Footwear
CDFAM Series Interview with Keynote Speaker Onur Yuce Gun Of New Balance
Onur Yuce Gun has been at the forefront of computational, generative, and AI-driven design since the early 2000s, holding the position of Director of Computational Design at New Balance and providing consulting services to various companies, including Samsung and Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates.
Having lectured at renowned academic institutions worldwide, such as MIT and RISD in the United States, Universidad Adolfo Ibañez, and Istanbul Bilgi University, Onur brings a wealth of knowledge to the table.
As the opening keynote speaker at CDFAM in New York City this June, Onur will share insights into his work, background in architecture, philosophy on designer-computer interactions, and the qualities he seeks in computational designers for his team at New Balance.
For a more in-depth look at Onur's thoughts, don't miss the full extended interview available on the CDFAM Symposium site.
Can you tell us a little about your role as Director of Computational Design at New Balance and some of the projects you have worked on there?
Depending on the situation, I wear various hats. My initial responsibility involved demonstrating how to integrate advanced computational design techniques into New Balance's design and manufacturing workflows. Despite starting from scratch as a footwear designer, I persisted through numerous rounds of explaining "what is computational design?"--but don’t get me wrong, this was a two-way learning process. I started from zero as a footwear designer, so there was a steep learning curve ahead of me as well.
In the R&D process of our 3D-printing platform, TripleCell, I played a pivotal role. Starting from scratch, we were able to release two limited-production shoes in 2019. I personally designed the forefoot midsole component of the Fuelcell Echo Triple.
Fuelcell Echo Triple by New Balance, limited series model released in 2019
I cannot list the number of challenges we faced, but looking back, overcoming all those helped us develop unique skills as a group. I worked on anything from lattice design, simulations, light-weighting, data-driven design, part optimization for printing, assembly, durability, and performance. You can consider this a designer’s dream, or nightmare, as it is virtually impossible to imagine a design that would satisfy all those needs at once.
If I were to touch upon my teaching efforts in the company, I contributed to the development of Kinetic Stitch, a performance-oriented embroidery technique that elevated the quality of our football boots. As part of my efforts to train the next generation of Computational Designers, I utilized the algorithms and logic involved in the process as teaching materials.
Beyond that, my personal work encompassed a broad range of computational tasks, including last modifications to apparel, automated visualization systems, and bitmap processing.
As the inaugural "computational designer" at New Balance, I held the dual role of Computational Design specialist and brand ambassador both within and outside the company. Looking ahead, I anticipate that computational design will continue to gain momentum at New Balance, which will have a significant impact on our cultural and product landscapes.
A significant number of leading computational designers in footwear and industrial design, like yourself, have a background in architecture and parametric modeling. What factors do you think inspire architects to apply computational design in other fields? And what drives them to leave architecture and explore these alternative applications?
It's remarkable to note that architects played a pioneering role in introducing and expanding the field of computational design. The design of the Waterloo Train Station was a turning point in the history of architecture.
In the early 2000s, the number of Computational Designers could be counted on one's fingers (and maybe toes). I became part of this group in 2006, and at that time, there were only 8-10 of us in New York City.
Since then, the definition of what constitutes a computational designer has evolved, and for those who were early adopters, architecture began to feel, maybe, too slow. For research-driven minds, it's challenging to cope with a sense of stagnation. They want to ask more questions, find more answers, learn and teach more, and have a greater impact on the discourse and society…
Read the full interview on the CDFAM Symposium site.
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