Cellular material structures have been engineered at the mesoscopic scale for high performance and multifunctional capabilities. However, the design of adaptive cellular structures - structures with cellular configurations, sizes, and shapes designed for a specific geometric and loading context - has not been sufficiently investigated. In this paper, the authors present a design synthesis method with the use of unit truss approach and particle swarm optimization algorithm to design adaptive cellular structures. A critical review is presented to show the pros and cons of the new design synthesis method and an existing homogenization method. The research extends the application of additive manufacturing in the design of new materials for high performances and benefits its long-term growth.