Godspeed Syd Mead / Generative design / Marlin Dirt Bike

Rest in peace oh you creator of so many futuristic visions. Syd Mead visited our design school while I was studying for my bachelors degree and we had a short talk about William Gibson. I mourn his passing by writing this post to reminisce in how his work inspired me.

I originally attempted to adopt his style in a competition that had exactly those parameters: Create a vision with clear Syd Mead associations. He himself was a judge, along with Adam Savage. The Syd Meadian design I wanted to create an homage for was his original Lightcycle as seen below:

LightCycle I am however not an accomplished painter like he was, but I enjoyed the exercise and I wasn’t completely unhappy with my design seen here:

SydMead Bike
An autonomous taxi illustrated in the style of Syd Mead and with a reference to his original Lightcycle design.

Sadly the jury was not in my favor and I shelved the design for later use, which was fortunate since I needed a futuristic looking electric dirt bike for an image I was creating several years later:

Sketch for an early stage of the design that would eventually become the Marlin SM

In that particular poster the bike design was really secondary, but since we all know that cool industrial design can really underline a science fiction world I spent some extra time thinking it through, the final image can be seen below here and is printed in 2 by 5 meters at our local incubator.

GameCollege image with Marlin SM bike
Guest appearance of the Marlin SM bike on the left

I fell in love with generative design some 10 years later and it felt natural to attempt to push the Marlin SM design even further into reality by actually having Fusion 360 run through the chassis parameters. Generative design procedurally generates a series of design solutions based on a preset definition arranged by the user. Example: 4 bolt fixings have to connect to a bumper plate that needs to absorb a force that in this instance was 30.000 Newtons in 3 directions. The program generates 5 outcomes and the user selects one or two to be implemented in the final design as seen here ( material chose was titanium ):

The generative setup really is fairly simple: The red geometry is an obstacles that the computer isn’t allowed to interfere with, the yellow is a starting point for the design solution and the greens ( very faint ) are areas that the program have to maintain ( like bolt fixings ).

Marlin SM Generative Bumper 01

One of the 2 solutions that were chosen from the generative bumper design outcome

The designs are then implemented in the chassis that on the Marlin SM eventually looked like the image below here ( elements like suspension are of course added later ):

Generative design chassis, Marlin SM
The resulting bumper implemented in the Marlin SM chassis along with the other barebone elements, there’s a strange aesthetic quality to how the program adopts an organic metallic shape to overcome the defined forces.

So there it is, thank you Syd Mead for pushing me in this direction, I am unsure where it will lead me, but I am happy with the strange and wonderful things it is teaching me. I hope you’re somewhere up there still enjoying the legacy of your work. Happy New Year and Godspeed.

Link to interactive 3D model

Click the link above for interactive 3D view ( works on mobile as well )
Marlin SM
A render with the main bodywork removed
Marlin SM
Final design, all it needs now is an astronaut riding it across the dunes of Mars!
Red gold Marlin
As with high end SUVs, perhaps the Marlin has a place in premium transportation