Lionel Theodore Dean's Future Factory: Generative Product Design


Lionel Theodore Dean runs Future Factories, a rapid prototyping design house that often uses algorithmic and generative methods to arrive at their forms. Very interesting projects await you.

Above is a project entitled Holy Ghost, a alghoritic reinterpretaion of a popular design by Philippe Stark.

Entropia is a hung lamp, the image alone is mesmerizing, imagine a room full of them. In fact Theodore’s work is rooted in very advanced concepts of naturally-inspired form, but his products are often picked up by posh design houses looking to make money off the aesthetic appeal, for example you can see this very lamp being sold here for a pretty penny. Below is a short profile on the designer:

Lionel graduated from the Royal College of Art, London in 1987. He worked as an automotive designer, for Pininfarina in Italy before launching his own studio in 1989. Lionel’s products are very much design led: through his work he seeks to explore the boundaries between Art and Design. In 2002, as Designer in Residence at the University of Huddersfield, Lionel began FutureFactories, a concept for designs that evolve and mutate to create a potentially infinite stream of one-off solutions. These designs would be produced using Rapid Prototyping techniques. Initially blue skies research, the project has proved a huge success and has yielded a string of products ranging from gallery pieces to retail designs. Today Lionel focuses exclusively on digital manufacturing. FutureFactories has been exhibited in London, Milan, and New York. In 2005 one of Lionel’s pieces was acquired by MoMA, The Museum for Modern Art in New York, for its permanent design collection. “

* Update *

We were successful in contacting Lionel and getting some insight concerning his design methodology:

BA: Could you share with us a more theoretical explanation of the inspiration for future factories and your designs?

LTD: My idea in creating FutureFactories is to achieve a model of design and manufacturing that is between the 20th century model of mass production and traditional artisan craft making.  Mass manufacture has made high quality technically resolved merchandise available at affordable prices.  The downside is that the omnipresence of such artefacts renders them disposable.  I would like combine the technical investment made possible by a mass-market with the individuality of a bespoke piece.  Direct digital manufacturing, specifically additive manufacturing has made this a viable commercial possibility.

The aim of FutureFactories is mass-individualisation: the industrial scale production of one-off artefacts.  This should be an automated system independent of the designer’s input once the meta-design has been created.  To achieve this I combine parametric CAD with computer scripts. Ideally the result should be a stream of one-off solutions each identifiable is a specific design and yet recognisably different from all other iterations

Commercially mass-customisation/individualisation is in its infancy.  Holy Ghost was the first FutureFactories script to run in real-time (previous designs had been based on fixed length animations.  The Icon pendent which is a limited run of 100 pieces is the first individualised piece on a commercial scale.

Biomimetic Architecture would like to thank Lionel for taking the time to respond to our question.


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