Instant Design at the touch of a button
September 10, 2001 7:17 AM   Subscribe

Instant Design at the touch of a button More good news for designers -- not only has the ad market bottomed out, now this software from move design spits out instant layouts. Just add the text you want, choose the style, and hit Ctrl-G. The results are surprisingly tasteful. Is this the end of design as we know it, or just a toy for generating new ideas? Would you like fries with that?
posted by fellorwaspushed (23 comments total)
For a moment, I felt like a French executioner who had just been introduced to a guillotine.

Then I looked at the "Design Modules," and I felt a bit better. ;)
posted by brownpau at 7:34 AM on September 10, 2001

Why did I waste three years of my life in design school? Graphic design has never been so easy! Could this be a statment on the decline of orginality in the design profession?
posted by SuperBreakout at 7:50 AM on September 10, 2001

Could somebody explain to those of us too lazy to download this beast just how it's supposed to be any better than the "template" or "theme" features of paractically every major web page editor released in the past five years?
posted by harmful at 8:16 AM on September 10, 2001

I don't think it's supposed to be. They say it's at least partly a toy in their FAQ. But I gave it a try, and although the design concepts it spits out aren't that interesting - but they're not total junk either.
posted by mikel at 8:23 AM on September 10, 2001

Harmful: it is very different -- more like an instant magazine layout than a web template. It includes photos, fonts, etc. and is not limited by tables or other HTML design conventions. Also, the different modules have different styles, like urban, modern etc.
posted by fellorwaspushed at 8:29 AM on September 10, 2001

I half expected the results to be junk...

However: I tried using it to design an album cover for my cd. It came worryingly close to something I had designed myself. (Although this may mean that I am rubbish)

The sort of thing you wouldn't tell your friends about if they occasionally employed you to do a bit of design for them....

posted by Spoon at 8:34 AM on September 10, 2001

The FAQ says it's a "rapid prototyping" tool. It seems to me that, with polishing and more modules, it has the potential to take away some low-end customers from designers. The results aren't horrible, but for those who value originality and creativity, they are not acceptable. As a designer, I don't think I'd ever use this thing -- no matter how many "random algorithyms" it uses, it still locks you into a fixed set, and kinda takes all the fun out of prototyping :)

Still, like Spoon said, I wouldn't show it to individuals I design for - especially in this market, sheesh.
posted by fizgig at 8:45 AM on September 10, 2001

Oh come on, there's nothing to worry about. This is like a new version of The Print Shop, only for webloggers pressed for time instead of Grandmas who want to make a WELCOME HOME JOHNNY banner on endless rolls of pinfeed paper. Fun to play with, though!
posted by bcwinters at 8:50 AM on September 10, 2001

As far as auto-generative derivative designs are concerned, nothing beats Auto-Illustrator
posted by mkn at 9:13 AM on September 10, 2001

Although I hate to perpetuate the Metafilter-leftist-atheist stereotype, I have to say I got as far as "great for preachers!" on the Auto-Illustrator page and I gave up. Eek.
posted by bcwinters at 9:18 AM on September 10, 2001

I have become sort of ambivalent about design lately, mainly because it now means "working with computers". When I found this link, it seemed to confirm my suspicions. But in a way, I find it interesting to maybe start with a random idea generated by the program and build on it. Perhaps it is just a tool of chance. I think of the designer more as an observer of possibilities, and 'design' being the ability to choose the best possible outcome. It might be cool if they had a 'pop' module to generate Andy Warhol-type effects. I think Andy would approve...
posted by fellorwaspushed at 9:32 AM on September 10, 2001

I think this sort of thing is quite useful; something like looking through a dynamic design annual.
posted by tranquileye at 10:19 AM on September 10, 2001

bcwinters, that link for auto-illustrator is wrong. i think mkn meant to put a dash in there.
posted by pup at 10:35 AM on September 10, 2001

Real, actual web design involves thinking and creative input. Only a human designer can genuinely think and create new ideas, while a computer program only follow the instructions that it's programmers laid out for it.
posted by tomorama at 10:58 AM on September 10, 2001

oops, sorry about the missed dash in the link.

I'm sure that a Warhol plug-in is probably in the works somewhere. Hell, they already have a Instant Bauhaus plug-in in A-I.. as well as instant Designer-Republic arrow generation.

Personally, I don't think Auto-Illustrator is meant to be taken seriously. In a way, it's mocking the 'design community' and all their trends - and as such, encouraging people to think less in terms of the software they have, and more in terms of what they think.
posted by mkn at 11:04 AM on September 10, 2001

This is all true of course - except that a lot of design is based around harmonious collisions of things. What this program does VERY well is set up a process whereby you can collide things swiftly and come up with otherwise un-thought-of effects and styles.

I don't know what I think about it to be honest. Except that if you run through a couple and come up with something that you think conveys the image of a site pretty well, I wonder how unpleasant (or immoral) it would be to work with it from that point on...

And I think the design skill would come with DESIGNING the modules for it, and then running your process every so often. Fresh 'designs' (or at least backgrounds / ideas) at the touch of a button.

I'm really torn actually. I want to play with it, but I think it makes me corrupt.
posted by barbelith at 11:08 AM on September 10, 2001

mkn has it right. among other things, this is of course a parody.

everyone should have a look over at for an interview with the creator of n-gen and all manner of other interesting "software art".
posted by deepdisco at 11:29 AM on September 10, 2001

* gasp *

Oh, geez -- MeFi people are *amazing.*

I'd seen auto-illustrator, and totally forgot to bookmark it. I have been looking and looking and looking for this thing for ages, and couldn't find it. Anywhere. I finally decided I dreamed it. Seriously.

Now I can go home and get my husband to stop laughing at me... "Only *you* would dream about software...."
posted by metrocake at 11:55 AM on September 10, 2001

In the day-to-day video production world I work in, it is so very hard to create "new" looks for the video productions I work on. For the most part you are stuck with doing things the way "they've always been done." For all they pretend, Executive Producers of media content are conservative, demographic-pandering, philistines who wouldn't know an original concept if it stood naked & writhing in front of them...but I digress...

Another cause of video design always looking the same is Time. The video productions I speak of here are not super-high-end, MTV, or Hollywood stuff. They are training videos and promotional materials all produced on a shoe-string budget. You often barely have the time needed to get things edited let alone to design full-motion, graphic look-and-feel type stuff.

I see myself using an application like this to rapidly create graphical looks either for use in storyboards or in productions that just can't afford "real" graphic design. I just hope that (at some point) somebody (or me if its really useful) will create some templates that are more video friendly. IMO, web designed stuff is often too busy and too tiny for video graphics.
posted by bhmwks at 12:02 PM on September 10, 2001

Tried it out. Has some bugs. The business card Info will not update, so you are stuck with John Doe. Hey! That's not a bad name after all!
posted by hockeyman at 1:06 PM on September 10, 2001

(Has anyone noticed this is thread number 10001? :)

bhmwks - I'm from a video production background m'self, and quite often, the clients ALWAYS want something "MTV-ish." MTV-ish, MTV-ish. It's the one word I hear most in pre-prod. "Oh, I want it to be fast-paced and MTV-ish." Groan.

These design templates fit the bill. ;)
posted by brownpau at 6:50 PM on September 10, 2001

anything that means designers can spend more time sitting around radically altering the way humans feel about leafing through the attik's brochure and ripping them off wholesale has to be a good thing

plus it'll hit the sales of wallpaper hard .. this is also .. a good thing
posted by mrben at 10:54 PM on September 10, 2001

There is an odd irony in all of this. Designers, I among them, forced, to some degree, the postmodern deconstructionist psycho techno style which presently characterizes much of trendy web design. Our target audience seems to have adopted it as a lifestyle signature, and its depersonalized and inorganic message resonates to such an extent that I suspect that the target audience would rather it be created entirely by machine. Anybody got any other petards need hoisting?
posted by Opus Dark at 12:13 AM on September 11, 2001

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