Ikea experiments with generative AI for possible new furniture design

Regardless of how you feel about Artificial Intelligence, it’s an interesting time to explore what creativity means in this age. We don’t believe that all these new technologies will replace writers, artists, and designers but these are tools that individuals and brands can look into when it comes to creating new products. There’s a lot of ongoing debate on how technology like this is a detriment to how we’ve been coming up with new things but there’s also space for using it to harness creative ideas.

Designer: Joss Fong and Áron Filkey/courtesy Space10

Space10 is a Swedish design agency that Ikea has been funding and uses as a research and design partner that cab explore technology like AI, augmented reality, and Web3. They used generative AI to experiment with futuristic-looking designs based on old Ikea catalogs which they used as data sets. The results are pretty interesting and some may actually be the basis for designing new pieces for the brand in the future. If you didn’t know it was just an experiment, you can even think that they’re actual products from the brand’s latest catalog.

The various designs that the generative AI was able to produce was a mixed bag and also depended on the decade of the catalog used for the data set. Those that were from the 70s were more colorful and playful while those from the 80s had a cleaner and more minimalistic look. Not all of them are actually something that can be produced though since they looked pretty impractical and some even violate the laws of nature. Some even had missing parts that would make the furniture functional which will defeat the purpose.

So despite the amazing things that AI can generate, there still needs to have a human touch in terms of finalizing and fine-tuning the designs. If you’re willing to work with generative AI like what Ikea is doing with Space10, you can use it as inspiration or a starting point for coming up with new products. There’s still a lot of things like ethics and intellectual property that we still need to figure out but don’t start thinking of it as the enemy of creativity.