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Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal
Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.

Trace in New York by Morpholio

November 21st, 2013 by Sanjay Gangal

Article source: Morpholio

New app – Trace is an evolution of design process, enabling the development of ideas, free thinking and communication amongst a global community of designers and creators.

New York,September 25, 2012– The Morpholio Project announces the launch of its second app, simply called Trace.  The app explores the role of technology in the conceptual phase of the design workflow through a digital version of trace paper, and fosters communication amongst a global design culture. Trace, essential to any design or creative process, allows users to instantly draw on top of imported images or background templates, layering comments or ideas to generate immediate, intelligent sketches that are easy to circulate.

Image Courtesy © Morpholio

  • Architects: Morpholio
  • Project: Trace
  • Location: New York
  • Photography: Ahmed Elhusseiny, Anna Kenoff, Anna Pietrzak, Audrey Choi, Ciara Seymour, Devin Seymour, EzioBlasetti, James Kehl, Javier Galindo, Liz Ricketts, Milan delVecchio, Morpholio
  • The Morpholio Project Co-Creators: Jeffrey Kenoff, Mark Collins, Toru Hasegawa, Anna Kenoff
  • Sponsors: Dyson, Herman Miller, 3Form
  • Collaborators: Fernando portal, Community Director; Ciara Seymour, UX Director
  • Contributors: Yang Hua, Dan Forest,James H. Thompson, Victor Sardenberg, AsakuraAya

Image Courtesy © Morpholio

The Morpholio Project Advisory Council: Aaron Betsky, Adrian Heid,  AfshinRafaat, Aleksandra Sojka, Alex McCann, AlinaKazachuk, AlkisKlimathianos, Andrew Bennett, AndrisFeldmanis, Andy Vann, AnestaIwan, Anna Pietrzak, Anthony ShungYiuKo, Arquitetura:Design, Ashley spinks, Audrey Choi, AyaAsakua, AyazMomin, Ayesha Husain, Beau Schweikert, Becca Bellamy, Brian Cochran, Brian Pagnotta, Brian Thomas, Carlo Aiello, Carlos Rodriguez Infanzon, Carmen Cham, Che-Wei Wang, Chen Jin, Chi Aoyama, Christopher Slater, ChunxiaoXu, Constantine Valhouli, CoraleeBrin, danharding, Dan montano, Dara Goldberg, David Andrew Tasman, Dean Austin, Derek Lindner, Devin Seymour, Devon Fromm, ElieGamburg, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, Esther Cheung, Evert Martin, Heidi CathrineØstergaard, hiromu.noir, Ivor Ip, IvorinVrkas, Jaekyung lee, James Kehl, Jason Causton, Jason Khoo, Javier Galindo, Jonathan Choe, JungYong P, Junsheng Fu, Kathryn Gillmore, Kevin Buist, Kevin Kennedy, kriskuster, Kyoung Moon, Lan Do, Laurie Manfra, Leigh Salem, Leigh Wilkins, Leigha Dennis, Luca Bizi, Luis Carmona, MaiderLlagunoMunitxa, Maoz Price, Mark Bearak, Martin Bravo, Matilda schuman, Mehdi GhorashiNezhad, Minyoung song, naokihirose, Nikki Mueller, Paul Coughlin, Rachel Villalta, Ray Ho, Richard Renfro, Richard Sarrach, Robert Herrick, RuchikaModi, Ryan Hughes, SaadAlayyoubi, Sam Dufaux, Samantha Buell, Sean A. Gallagher, SedaZirek, Shang Chen, Shannon Rydell, Stanley Formo, Tatsuya Sakairi, TetyanaSerafin, Thomas Coldefy, Tian Jiang, Tim Griffith, Tim sawyer, Tina Manis, Tom Wilz, Trent Christensen, Troy Conrad Therrien, Veronica ScharfScharf, Woody Pak, Xan Young, Xiao, Yang Hua, Yuki Kobayashi, ZIIBA ESMAEILIAN

Image Courtesy © Anna Kenoff

The uniqueness of Trace is most visible in two primary modes.  One is communication, in which the user can simply trace over something in order to give feedback or convey information quickly, and graphically. The second is idea exploration. “You are plugging yourself into a recursive feedback loop, as you iteratively build up an idea, taking several passes at it,” says co-creator Mark Collins. Both allow creative cultures to maintain conceptual thinking as well as critical feedback throughout the design process.

Image Courtesy © Morpholio

Created by architects, Trace addresses a number of questions about how the proliferation of device culture, social networking, and cloud technology are changing the way designers work and connect on a daily basis.  It has been predicted that in 2020, there will be 50 billion mobile internet connections worldwide, the equivalent of seven devices per person.  It is crucial that experimentation and research thatharnesses the power of these devices,and makes tools specifically for the design and creative fields, occur in tandem with this rapid evolution of culture and process.

Image Courtesy © Morpholio

Time Tested Process + New Technology

What are the origins of an idea? How do we layer thoughts to create a generative workflow? How do we use memory as a way of distilling the most important decisions?  Those that have ever used trace paper know that the drawings you create are unique in multiple ways. “The layers of paper literally act like a brain.” says Collins, “They allow for remembering (by retracing) and forgetting (by adding new layers).” “These sketches are indebted to the many layers of thought from which they evolve, and inherently become a drawing that represents the sum of your most important ideas.” says Co-Creator Jeffrey Kenoff.  “For any creative culture, drawing on trace is just a different act, serving as a tool for generating ideas, communicating feedback and allowing one to truly think freely.”

Image Courtesy © Ciara Seymour

Other Evolutions in Design Culture

In the architectural world, trace can also be seen as an antidote to the prevailing digital model based design process, including parametric modeling and BIM (Building Information Modeling).  The ease of creating automated or data based models can lead to a bypassing of crucial steps in the conceptual process, particularly if forced to be far too specific, far too early.  Design tools should dis-inhibit through freedom and flexibility – something most CAD tools could strive further towards.  It is a goal of the Morpholio Project to make software that opens up exploration and super-charges the creative brain, keeping constant the various streams of valuable feedback.  “The emphasis is on design processes that are reflective and conceptual versus merely iterative.” says Co-Creator Anna Kenoff.  Trace argues that it is valuable to take sketches out of CAD programs, draw on top of them; analyzing intention, concept, or diagram, and then plug them back in.  “Whereas BIM software improves production optimization, the Trace software is about assisting and evolving design process traditions by exploring new relationships between brain, hand, and technology.” says Co-Creator Toru Hasegawa.

Image Courtesy © Liz Ricketts

How Trace Works

The Trace App is beautifully simple, intelligently clean and familiar in its canary yellow background. It begins with a single page on which to sketch and allows for a variety of underlays, including templates, photos, or any imagery pulled from the cloud. From the first line it provides effortless access to a variety of simple functions. The key function however is the “New Trace Layer” button, which allows a user to take their sketch and add another sheet, then another, and another until the idea or sketch is built to its final stages. With each layer the user can adjust the opacity to either highlight or hide the information behind it.  “Tracing over something is absolutely the foundation of the app,” says Hasegawa, “Layers of trace paper are not the same as “layers” in Photoshop or other tools.  Here, they are the stacking of ideas, as opposed to the organizing of files.”

Image Courtesy © Morpholio

In addition to using trace to build an idea, the app simplifies many other forms of feedback in the design process. The software imagines gathering information such as field conditions, construction photos, contact sheets, or sourcing imagery, and streamlining the process of editing, commenting and communicating instantly in sketches with an efficiency that words alone cannot achieve.  Trace will also be integrated with the Morpholio app which works off the portfolio model to create an interactive platform in which to present, share and critique imagery. Morpholio’s groundbreaking “Eye Time” functions combine with a global community of users to provide invaluable feedback on work shared through its variably public arenas: Crit, Pinup, and Community.  Trace expands upon Morpholio’s notion that that feedback is the most invaluable and generative resource for designers, and further propels crucial design processes into the cloud era.

Image Courtesy © James Kehl


In February 2011 a group of architects, and academics began The Morpholio Project with a small collection of collaborators. The experiment first produced the Morpholio app, which now includes nearly 10,000 designers and members of other visual disciplines such as photography, graphic arts, film, and television. Feedback from every user has influenced the process, goals, and definition of the project.  “The Morpholio Project is first, and foremost an experiment in distributed intelligence,” says Co-Creator, Mark Collins.  “By leveraging the “wisdom of crowds” every designer can see and understand how his or her work is experienced by others”.

Image Courtesy © Morpholio

The project relies on a robust Advisory Council, of nearly 200 members, representing arange of studios, and universities worldwide including both students and professors from Columbia, Harvard, London’s Architectural Association, and The School of Visual Arts.  In addition, the project has received the support of Herman Miller, Dyson, and 3Form as sponsors.  The software evolves with each new member and collaborator.

Image Courtesy © Javier Galindo

The Morpholio Project has ambitious goals. We hope that together with our community we can globalize critique, create horizontal platforms for collaboration and truly reimagine the portfolio as a design utility.  Morpholio Beta 1.3 and Morpholio Trace are both now available for download in Apple’s App Store, and accessible via


Image Courtesy © Milan delVecchio

Image Courtesy © Ciara Seymour

Image Courtesy © Morpholio

Image Courtesy © Morpholio

Image Courtesy © Morpholio

Image Courtesy © Ciara Seymour

Image Courtesy © Liz Ricketts

Image Courtesy © Morpholio

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