Apps For The Pocket Designer

Jason Fields of iPhone app review blog app.itize.us, explores generative graphic design applications.

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Recently, I have observed a trend in designer apps released being much more useful and less about aesthetic novelties. Specifically, I have seen two apps that have caught my eye as true tools for design exploration. AddLib • Gemoetries in Design from Japanese company AppArt, which allows you to create some fantastic swiss style typographic experiments via the grid system and golden ratio and BDD • Büro Destruct Designer from Berne, Switzerland design powerhouse Büro Destruct which allows you to randomize colorful wallpaper patterns using only circles, squares and a set of rules almost limitlessly via shaking your phone.

The trend to randomly generate designs on computers has been around now for years — there was an app back in 1999 developed by MoveDesign with a product called n-Gen which did a similar auto-magical design, but, at an enterprise and business scale, enabling corporations to set up very strict design guidelines that could not be deviated from, but allowing their editorial staff to enter in any campaign specific text and then send the polished designs to the printers. It’s now defunct, but way ahead of its time, no question.

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It has now come full circle (more than ten years later!) into the palm of your hand, and any iPhone owner can choose to install any of these many useful and well crafted designer apps available. Some other brilliant apps that i have spotted in the wild and written about on my own designer app blog app.itize.us are anyone can swiss, an app that typsets any text in helvetica; photoikku, a unique take on creating haikus (both english and japanese); satromizer, based on the artistic jpeg compression glitches of media artist Jon Satrom, and ascii me, one of the coolest ascii art apps I have seen, taking any photo image and converting it to alphabetical madness.

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What is the outcome of this all then? As mentioned, these generative graphic design (or GGD) applications have become popular recently, and now with these apps, one can create astonishing results in graphic design, illustration and experimental art. Is a designers work to be replaced by clever software getting things done quicker and cheaper? Or do designers just need to convert into programmers, feeding little machines with knowledge and hints of design? I think that both can live in harmony, as there will never be a replacement for a true graphic designer. A BDD user once asked, if the designs he created with BDD are his own property? Lopetz chief design scientist from Büro Destruct confirmed “Yes they are!”

Jason Fields is a user experience design professional having spent more than 15 years in the online and mobile web space. Originally from Los Angeles, then San Francisco, he currently lives in London with his wife and son and works for the BBC as a UX&D department head. In his spare time he writes the design focused iPhone app review blog app.itize.us, a curated presentation of the best designed iPhone apps.

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