Tom Dixon and Dassault Systèmes swYm Conference

By Kate
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Tom Dixon at swym conference

“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.”

– Blaise Pascal in Provincial Letters: Letter XVI

During this year’s Milan Furniture Fair, I got to meet Virtual Tom, aka designer Tom Dixon’s 3D twin. 

Today at Dassault Systèmes’ swYm conference (formally called Devcon), I got to meet the real person. 

While there are a few memorable geeky nuggets I’d like to dig down on in later posts, I’d like serve up a dosage of Tom-chat.  Sitting outside on the ivy-lined steps of DS Campus, Tom shared his thoughts on 3D and design, plus a glimmer of what he’d like to do for next year’s Milan fair.

“I like opposites, so juxtaposing what’s happening in 3D and online with something real is interesting.”  Tom

Tom’s goal is to make things simple, and “just because you can do lots of complex things with technology and design doesn’t mean that you should.” 

This reminded me of Oblong’s “you are the interface” and the ultimate goals to technology.  We shouldn’t feel the complexity in what’s happening with our 3D, VR or other techno; we should just be enjoying the experience without having to think about the how-to.  Much like we enjoy exquisite French meals.  If you get heady about it, the magic dies.  And if you get too complex in your recipes and presentation, you lose your Michelin star.  

But this is harder to accomplish than you may think.  You see this movement in the PLM space as Kurt Chen pointed out.  Users want simple interfaces and powerful results.  But I’m digressing. 


One of the projects you may see developing from our partnership with Tom Dixon is a design contest for SolidWorks users whereby the winning design would be fabricated live at next year’s Milan Furniture Fair.  Tom, I’m rooting for you on this one, and BTW, if my boss is reading this, how about a ticket to Milan for some live blogging?  ;-)

If you happen to be at swYm, like Tom you may enjoy playing with the “toys” as he called them available on our partner stands.  Think haptic VR.  Tom’s thinking about it in a design context.

Off to some afternoon sessions.  If you’re around, please ping me so I can say hi live.  Otherwise, anything particular you’d like me to cover during the conference? 



3DVIA for Operating Room Designs that Work

By Bernie
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I often say that I have the coolest job at Dassault Systèmes. That’s because I get to spend my days with our customers, learning about all the amazing ways they’re using our solutions to make the world a better place.

For example, have you ever thought about how hospital operating rooms get designed? Modern operating rooms are packed with equipment and people. Everything has to be close at hand without being in the way. The room must be easy to navigate, yet make effective use of space. Lighting must be perfect. And when the surgery is done, every surface – even the floor – must be accessible for effective sterilization.

Clearly, the architects who design the rooms and the equipment suppliers who outfit them need a lot of input from medical professionals to achieve a room that functions at peak efficiency. But medical professionals aren’t architects. They don’t have experience reading blueprints. They might get one chance in the course of an entire career to offer their input on an operating room design. And if they make a mistake, they might have to live with it for years.

Operating room equipment and systems supplier BERCHTOLD knows the challenges well.  Although it tried many approaches over the years, it never found an ideal solution for helping doctors and nurses picture the operating rooms they were helping to design – until it teamed up with EwingCole DMG, the 3D modeling and interactive applications division of a Philadelphia-based architectural and engineering firm.

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EwingCole DMG built a 3D operating room visualization environment for BERCHTOLD in 3DVIA Virtools. Virtools allows operating room personnel to “build” a virtual operating room in real-time in 3D and then move around the room just as they would during an operation to validate the room’s functionality. If they find a clash or an inconvenient placement, their BERCHTOLD sales rep can change it in a few clicks. And it all runs on the BERCHTOLD reps’ standard-issue laptops, so they can take it anywhere.

“We love it,” says John Mueller, architectural design supervisor for BERCHTOLD.

“The 3DVIA Virtools operating room visualization application helps our customers see what they’re trying to achieve much faster and with fewer design ‘mistakes,’ and it easily facilitates input from broad and diverse teams of hospital workers. It really helps people who aren’t architects visualize these rooms.”

Dave Buchhofer, technical director at EwingCole DMG, says 3D visualization is critical to designing operating rooms that work at peak efficiency.

“You see things in 3D that you’d never catch in 2D renderings. Using 3D models to do interference and clash detection makes the process more time- and cost-efficient.”

And with 3DVIA Virtools, EwingCole DMG can quickly and easily update the application each time BERCHTOLD adds new equipment to its offering.

Correcting poor choices on the laptop screen is quick, easy, and costs nothing. It also helps to ensure that all of a hospital’s resources go into building the best possible operating room – not correcting unrecognized issues after construction. That’s good for hospitals and for all of a hospital’s surgery patients. Just one more example of how 3DS solutions help to make the world a better place.

Where do you next expect 3D in the operating room?



Bernie Hearne works in Customer Referecing for Dassault Systèmes.

Creativity in 3D | Winners

By Xavier
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We would like to thank all participants for the creations we received.

After reviewing all the candidates’ entries we are delighted to announce the 3 winners.

MC2 by Marwan Khiat

MC2 a concept of vehicule that uses the car fleet as an electric station. The user can use and manage his electrical energy according to his needs for his better choice and comfort.

Modelling with CATIA V5 “Full” Imagine&Shape

a brief discussion with Marwan

Hello,my name is  marwan khiat an industrial design student at Strate College Designers. I used catia within the framework of the realization of my project of diploma. For me catia was the best solution to model my object with a sure efficiency.

With my project, this car interior allows his user to manage its electric production which is generated thank’s to its solar surfaces which equip exterior design. The connection between exterior and interior is shaped by connection between the dashboard and the solar surface. The HMI allows for the users to manage his engine cartography.

For me Catia Imagine and Shape are the best way for a designer to built his 3D model. With Catia we can have a background and we can change everything when we want and very efficiently. For my project and with all the design process and the design evolution I spend 6 days for build it. I use especially Imagine and Shape because it’s more intuitive and we can model it like a clay model and also a little bit Part Design for technical and simple shape.



Miami Signature Spa By Hex Ceballos

Architecture Design for a signature spa in Miami, fl.

Concept was to combine different architecture languages into one.Polymorphism. Example from: 1111 by Herzog & De Meuron, Park guel by Gaudi, and Dillier & Scofidio single surface architectural language.

Started off with program modeling of spaces using space reservations, and then from there created an elevation sketch of the conceptual building, and modeled the building using advanced surfacing. Later rendered using the existing conditions of the project site.


a brief discussion with Hex

I am Cuban descent born in the U.S. I graduated from Champagnat Catholic School. I have earned my Associate in Arts in Architecture at Miami-Dade College. I was chapter president of an International Honor society during my time at Miami-Dade College. Currently a student at Florida International University School of Architecture in the Accelerated Masters Program. I have a passion for design, engineering, technology, soft fluid forms, and organic form curvatures.  I have been learning CATIA for the past 3 years and counting, and currently learning  3dvia Virtools and programming.

| Can you tell us who you are, your job and the reason you use CATIA ?

I am a student at Florida International University majoring in architecture. I am also planning to get a degree in Design and Computations and, probably, in engineering as well at another university.

The reason I use CATIA is because it allows me to think intuitively as a designer without limitations. I am able to communicate my vision in CATIA, design freely while implementing concurrent design methodology and other methodologies into my process. I am able make bi-directional changes as the project progresses during the design phase. I have used CATIA before in the past for a design project called “Baywalk Bridge Project”, The design was publicized twice at Miami-Dade College, and was entered at COE for technifair poster session 2009 which won second place. In other terms, a student trying to work out of the box.


| We would like to discover what is the story of the product you have created using CATIA?

The project was to create a spa or wellness center in Miami Beach at a specified location next to Indian Creek Park. The spa had to be unique as possible, something that would drive the people there; create a sense of place-making. The area does not support any urban infrastructure nor a sense of place; a destination.

I started modeling the project site, and then modeling the program with accurate square footages space reservations, and arranging the spaces. Once the initial step was completed, I posted a sheet of paper on the wall and projected the model and performed a dynamic  section to sketch out design ideas. I was sketching the program model at various sections trying to find the form and behavior of the design.

Once the sketch was completed, I scan the image and brought into CATIA using sketch tracer to begin the design modeling process in context with the project site. I have used mostly advanced surfacing for the form and turn it into a solid. During the modeling process, I was making design decision bi-directional changes; changing the program, the form, the behavior of the design to better communicate my vision.


| Why did you use CATIA for this creation?

Digital media  has been an approach to communicate design intent ideas; CATIA’s wide range of tools and advance surfacing has allowed me to express language, creativity, and vision. In the AEC industry, the tool palette is limited, and AEC palette of tools have limitations and the majority of the industry still works in 2D and some architectural firms are adopting BIM, but even BIM tools have their limitations.

CATIA seems to have no limitation, design decisions can be made intuitively in any form or process. CATIA gives the end-user the ability to make changes globally and parametrically through its history-based features; being able to make bi-directional changes while progressing the design intent without deleting any features. CATIA can also create complex compound curvatures with advanced surfacing tools which AEC industry tools have difficulty producing soft forms and curvature.

Model translation to different environment and platform are eliminated. The model is kept within the same environment and platform. Therefore, if I need a certain tool or feature, I do not need to export the model to another file format and have it imported into another program. With CATIA, I can easily switch modeling environments, make changes parametrically, internal and external data could be linked to the virtual prototype, and no file exchanges.

With all the AEC tools in the world,  CATIA seems to be the preferred mature tool for design because: 1)  Integration of cross disciplines in a collaborative environment 2) Compound curvatures produced with advanced surfacing form finding tools 3) CATIA is a history-based modeling program. 4) The models can be parametrically intelligent. These are just but a few reasons I use CATIA for this design, and will continue to do so for future designs.

|  How much time did you spend on CATIA for this Creation?

The design was a Grad Studio 5 project. We are given a limited time frame to design and present the work in a architectural manner and studio environment. The project time frame was from October 2009 till December 1 2009 ( a lot of  long nights without sleep ).

| From your point of view, what are the main benefits you are getting from CATIA tools usage? Or Why did you like to use CATIA?

The main benefits is able to go back within the model history and make changes without deleting the features I have created.  Being able to create complex curvatures and organic forms using advanced surfacing, wireframe,  and clay form modeling tools, and converting the surfaces into solids; also adding parametric intelligence to the form.

Knowledge capture also plays a key role in capturing parts or assemblies for future use but allowing room for innovative changes and ideas. Understanding the tree in CATIA is a key factor to modeling, if you do not understand the tree you do not understand CATIA.


| Which are the CATIA products you have been using to create your product, and why did you decided to use these tools?

I used a wide range of tool palettes in CATIA but it is not limited to: Assembly Design, Part Design, Advanced Surfacing, Knowledgeware, Photo Studio, Real Time Rendering, Plant Layout, Product Structure. I mostly work with surfaces, but it also depends which best practice should be used for any project because from what I have learned there are many approaches to modeling in CATIA, however, the process and organizational structure of a good model is really imperative when applying knowledgeware.




Carbon Saddle by Jens

Light weight carbon saddle – concept 3d sketches – full Imagine and shape

a brief discussion with Jens

My name is Jens Paulus, I’m an industrial designer based in Barcelona.
Currently, I am working as a freelance designer in the field of Industrial Design and Yacht Design. I have worked for companies such as Barcelona Yacht design GROUP in Spain, Björn Johansson Design in UK, Icehotel in Sweden and Estudi Arola in Spain among others. Since 2009, I have been teaching part time at Istituto Europeo de Design, Barcelona in the interior design department.
In addition to design, my passions include playing in the symphony orchestra, ice sculpting and cycling.

| Can you tell us who you are, your job and the reason you use CATIA ?

I got to know CATIA while working at BYD Group 2005-2008 as a yacht interior designer. There I experienced the great benefits of CATIA tools working on complex yacht design projects. A team of naval architects, engineers and designers working  closely together using CATIA accomplishing very different tasks.

| We would like to discover what is the story of the product you have created using CATIA

As I didn’t spend so much time on the concept, I called my entry a “3D sketch” rather than a well thought design concept. It was a spontaneous creation of a bike saddle driven by my love for road bikes. I think it illustrates quite well the power of CATIA, it enables you to create very complex designs in a very short time.

| Why did you use CATIA for this creation

I actually created the bike saddle especially to participate the CATIA contest and demonstrate what you can do with this software.

| How much time did you spend on CATIA for this Creation.

It took me 5 hours for creating the bike saddle from the scratch, Ideation process, 3d modelling and creating the little presentation included.

| From your point of view, what are the main benefits you are getting from CATIA tools usage? Or Why did you like to use CATIA.

As a freelancer I have to adapt to the work conditions of each company I’m working for and unfortunately I don’t always have the possibility to work with CATIA. Therefore knowing other 3d applications quite well I just can tell that CATIA is outstanding in every way! How complex your design problem might be: CATIA will enable you to solve it. Then I like the way you’re able to organize the operations all the way through the parametric modelling process, it gives you the feeling of total control. The visualization while working is just a pleasure, it definitely gives you the feeling you’re working almost on a real physical model.

| Which are the CATIA products you have been using to create your product, and why did you decided to use these tools?

CATIA Imagine & shape. It enables you to create complex shapes in an intuitive way.



… and discover the Best of Video of participants.

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Jury board members


Philippe, Ichiro-san, Sam, Matthieu, Sebastiens, Frederic, Pierre




Thanks to our partner Print Value




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