Things from the end of the internet

N-Gen Design Machine
Thursday September 24th 2020, 20:16
Filed under: Graphics,Tech

Pretty long ago I’ve found mention of small design generator called N-Gen Machine. Most informations I got about it were from portfolio site of one designers from San Francisco’s Move Design studio, who developed it. Couldn’t find anything more about for a longer while.

After casual googling I finally got a result to a blog post about this program and most importantly, a link to web site of project. Fortunately downloads were intact which is suprising for Wayback Machine nowdays. From site also got to know it’s development ceased in 2003.

Archived site, as in 2003.

Got first Windows version, which you can also find on dotcomboom’s w2krepo, Mac versions are pretty similar. One interesting thing is that „n-Generate” button looks straight out from Mac OS9, both on Windows and OS X. Seems it was re-compiled for other platforms, but I don’t really know about technical details. Another interesting thing is how exporting differs on Mac and Windows. On Mac you’ll get a jpg, when on Windows… it’s a screenshot in .bmp format in pretty bad quality.

Interface gives us pretty limited options with type of work you can generate and everything is random, except text which can be changed. There are available views like poster, flyer, CD jacket, record label, web site (displayed in IE 5 for Mac here) or full screen (a wallpaper?). Windows version also had buisness card.

Available views

Most important thing in this little thing are modules. So far there were only 6 modules for N-Gen machine which are embodient of hottest graphic design trends of late 90s to early 00s. First one, default n-Generic is pretty much very minimalist one and gives a little of variation compared to rest of them.

All available modules

Now fun starts here – California Noir is based on designs of David Carson (think Raygun Magazine), which is kind of grungy. Deep colors, distressed type.

Another one is called Die Modernist, which is inspired by Bauhaus, International Style and Modernism in general.

Future Tool and Spacefarm modules are in similar vein, first one is way more cute and Japan obsessed compared to second one, which is inspired by long-defunct Attik (probably closed around 2009 from what I could gather). By the way, Future Tool seems to look sime something made by The Designers Republic in early 90s, but more 3D.

Unfortunately cropped

Last one is so far my favourite. Urbivore, as described on archived site:

„Feel the angst and decay of the city in the comfort of your own studio, with Urbivore™. Sophisticated, cosmopolitan and spare, four out of five professional designers agree, it’s the most faithful reproduction of minimalist – post – apocalyptic – grit – chic available”

It was inspired by work of Farrow Design (think Spiritualized’s Ladies and Gentlemen cover) and Peter Saville (later work though, but I guess you’ll know this dude for covers for New Order/Joy Division).

Neat program. As for why the UI looks like classic Mac OS, it’s because the generic Windows widgets (not through shit like Winforms, but just generic Win32 layout stuff) was developed way back in the Windows 3.1 era, when they were pretty explicitly trying to copy classic Mac OS. These days, it’s just legacy code they keep around so as to not break anything with older programs.

Comment by Cammy 09.24.20 @ 20:22