Despite what popular culture and gregarious (and suspiciously well-rested) television protagonists tell you, architects don’t do much drawing anymore. But they still trace, and for good reason. Trace, or tracing, is the fastest and most intuitive form of critique, which, unlike drafting or the charette (in its literal forms), has survived as a fundamental stage(s) of the design process. Still, as the 3D modelling field supersedes the drafting table and even the studio as the predominant venue for the design of buildings and objects alike, trace has become stigmatized as anachronistic, or worse, atavistic, a “detour” from the action unfolding in virtual space. After all, how to get your pristine Rhino model from the screen to the page and back again, in a timely and seamless manner?
Introducing Morpholio Trace, an innovative new app that allows architects and designers to literally “bring your model out of Rhino”. The app, which can be downloaded here, simulates the act of tracing by overlaying a trace-like canary-yellow filter over a sketch or rendering of your 3D model. Users can draw directly on the screen to immediately generate both feedback and ideas. Add another layer (and another and another) to further the creative process.
Designed by architects, Trace was built to work off of Morpholio, the interactive portfolio app which was launched last December. That app–we recommend you download it now–was the product of research into the (near) future of device culture, wherein a large part of the world’s population will have easy and multiple means of access to information via their smart phones, wearable computers, and other gadgetry. Morpholio, according to its makers, was an attempt to “map human behavior”, whether though tracking eye movements and finger swipes, and learn from it. By opening the app, the user is initiating a feedback loop that can help them to not only organize their work according to quantified data, but also to help pinpoint the elusive “aha” moment that accompanies and utterly transforms any design process.
Trace is the next step in the cloud-based design process started by Morpholio. The team behind Trace refer to it as a “thinking” and not “drawing” app that augments digital design processes like parametric modeling and BIM by promoting the freedom and flexibility those systems too quickly suppress. They see Trace as a “scaffolding of ideas” to buttress the creative, conceptual, and critical phases of the design process. By embracing the beauty of trace, “you are plugging yourself into a recursive feedback loop,” says co-creator Mark Collins, “as you iteratively build up an idea, taking several passes at it.”
In addition to the basic trace functionality, the app streamlines data collection and processing. Trace can gather anything from site documentation to construction photos and render them operable, making it easy to edit and share them with various members of the design team.
Trace will be soon be fully integrated with the Morpholio app, meaning that the latter’s host of features, from the “Eye Time” to the “Crit” and “Pinup” functions will be available to Trace users. Not least of all, designers will be able to share their designs with Morpholio’s global community to form public arena for feedback and critique.
All sketches courtesy of Morpholio