What is Chrysalis?
Chrysalis is a tool for helping individual designers and small product design firms to sell their products online in an exciting and collaborative new way. Basically, if you're a designer Chrysalis will allow you to set up an interactive online storefront that that lets people customize a design and then export it to another service (like Ponoko or Shapeways) for making. The tool works by acting as a translator between two popular design programs: Grasshopper and Processing, combining the best of both to create something new.
Designers can use Chrysalis in 3 easy steps:
Step1: Create your design in Grasshopper
Step2: Use Chrysalis to convert your Grasshopper file to Processing and post to the web for users to customize (see mockup here)
Step3: Send the customized design to a web-based making system like Ponoko to be digitally fabricated and shipped directly to your customers!
The Result: A beautiful and unique product that is as much a result of the customer's creativity as it is of the designer's, because of the rich variety of possible designs available in just one applet! Here are just some of the permutations of the above lamp.
What will the funding be used for?
This may sound simple, but its actually quite an ambitious project, and one that I cannot do by myself! I have had professional coders gauge exactly what it would take, and give estimates based on the scope outlined below. Please note that Chrysalis will NOT include translation of ALL of the Grasshopper components to Processing. That would frankly be crazy. We are talking about a sub-set which will allow basic geometry: points lines, extrusions, loft surfaces and primitives and a few others. However, with thorough documentation, we wil make it easy for others to expand on the basic set. My hope is that the same kind of user-generated add-ons that we have seen with Grasshopper will happen with Chrysalis as well.
The following will be made available through the Processing and Grasshopper online communities, and licensed under Creative Commons:
- New 3D libraries for Processing to support selected types of NURBS geometry
- Adaptation of some 3D geometry libraries already existing for Processing (anar+, toxiclibs, etc..)
- New Chrysalis translator app, written in Processing
- New initiator component to run within Grasshopper
- Complete documentation of all included libraries and translator app
How will Chrysalis help designers?
There is a new paradigm emerging in which small scale designers are offering customizeable versions of their designs through interactive web applets. Customers can go to the website, select a number of settings, preview the customized product and get a price estimate. Then when they are ready, they press a button and the product is made and shipped to them directly.
Processing makes apps like this possible through its robust graphics handling, and the ability to run in a web browser and interact with other websites via html. However, Processing has a text-based code editor, which is difficult to use in 3D design, especially for visually oriented people.
The intuitive WYSIWYG interface offered by Grasshopper is much more effective for visually oriented designers because it shows data and its relationships graphically instead of as lines of text. Unfortunately, Grasshopper models are not as share-able as Processing. It is not possible to view or interact with grasshopper designs on the web. The answer is Chrysalis; Think of it as designing 3D interactive content for the web using an intuitive visual programming interface.
Why should You back Chrysalis?
Chrysalis takes its name from the transformative stage in the life cycle of butterflies. I hope that this project, which transforms one type of interactive data into another, will also have a transformative effect on the nature of designing and doing business for small scale designers and entrepeneurs. The possibilities are greater, even than this. Some of the best open source projects (Processing is one of them) end up being used in ways far different and beyond what the original maker intended. Some posible uses for Chrysalis include: interactive walk-throughs for architects, online educational tools for teachers, or three-dimensional questionnaires for design research, just to name a few. What could you use Chrysalis for?
That's great, but what if You're not interested in using Processing or Grasshopper? What do You get by backing Chrysalis?
As a designer, I plan to use Chrysalis to create interactive customization platform for my lamp designs. Backers of this project will receive some of the first lamps and other products that I plan to offer through this new platform before it is available to the public. They will get to offer feedback and help shape the interactive interface. Make sure to make a note if your backer's reward will be a gift or somebody else!
Of course, Chrysalis is an open-source project and the real benefit to backers will be that they are making it possible for more artists and designers to make their products available in this way. They are furthering a trend that will ultimately give them more options and flexibility when purchasing products online.
Who is Chris Chalmers and why is he doing this?
I am trained, and work as an architect in San Francisco. I'm married and have a 2 yr. old son named Theo who also likes designing and building things. I'm also a founding member of BIOS Design Collective, a group of designers who share a blog and collaborate on some projects.
Finally, I'm starting a small business to sell lamps and other design products online. I would like to use Chrysalis as a tool in my own work, which you can see some of on my website: www.fabripod.com. But I would also like to make the same tool available to others who I hope will use it in new unexpected ways. I can't wait to see what you make with Chrysalis!
Thanks for reading, Please contact me if you would like more information about Chrysalis, Fabripod or BIOS Design Collective.
I hope to hear from you!