3D Design Inspiration: Operative Design – A Catalog of Spatial Verbs by Anthony di Mari and Nora Yoo #3DThursday #3DPrinting


I have lately been collecting art, architecture, and design books that offer shape, decoration, design, and assembly ideas pertinent to 3D design and 3D printing. I’d like to share a few of these during #3dthursday each week, as those attending Ask An Engineer on Saturday nights have been requesting this.

First off, here is a fascinating architecture book that examines the “spatial verbs” at the heart of designing “space.” For example: extruding, scaling operations, and combining two shapes. While this isn’t precisely a list of operations used in a CAD program — these concepts are abstracted from the processes typically used to perform these “spatial verbs” — I have found thumbing through the scaffolding logic of this book deeply inspiring: the book begins stacking simple operations to generate more and more complex shapes and assemblies as it goes. Really helpful when I am looking for ideas to develop a simple design project into something more pleasing and more successful compositionally speaking.

Thanks to Jesse Spielman for introducing me to this book. He had said: “I don’t know why people aren’t really excited when they see this book — your reaction is what I expected.” Well, I suspect that readers here are also in the same camp.

From the publisher’s site:

This is a new title in the Architecture and Design Experiments series. The core idea for this book is the use of operative verbs as tools for designing space. These operative verbs abstract the idea of spatial formation to its most basic terms, allowing for an objective approach to create the foundation for subjective spatial design. Examples of these verbs are expand, inflate, nest, wist, lift, embed, merge and many more. Together they form a visual dictionary decoding the syntax of spatial verbs. The verbs are illustrated with three-dimensional diagrams and pictures of designs which show the verbs ‘in action’.

This approach was devised, tested, and applied to architectural studio instruction by Anthony Di Mari and Nora Yoo while teaching at Harvard University’s Career Discovery Program in Architecture in 2010. As instructors and as recent graduates, they saw a need for this kind of catalogue from both sides – as a reference manual applicable to design students in all stages of their studies, as well as a teaching tool for instructors to help students understand the strong spatial potential of abstract operations.

Anthony Di Mari is adjunct professor at Northeastern University’s School of Architecture and Nora Yoo is a practicing architect at Architecture Research Office in NYC.

  • Visual dictionary of spatial verbs
  • Devised, tested and applied at Harvard University
  • Useful for architecture and design students and teachers

Read more.

229 bookpage operative design 2

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