Kartell, a company who transforms design and integrates redesign into new products, is presenting an artificial intelligence (AI) chair in collaboration with designer Philippe Starck and Autodesk, a producer of 3D engineering and entertainment software.
This creative thinking has brought to fruition the AI chair, a chair that has been co-designed with a computer.
“Kartell, Autodesk, and I,” says Philippe Starck, “Asked artificial intelligence a question: Artificial Intelligence, do you know how we can rest our bodies using the least amount of material? Artificial Intelligence, without culture, without memories, without influence, responded only with intelligence, its ‘artificial’ intelligence. It is the first chair designed outside our brain, out of our habits, and how we are used to thinking. And thus, a new world opens up to us. Unlimited.”
The design for this chair encompasses an entirely new way of thinking. Although Starck envisioned elements of the AI chair before sitting down with the software, the ability to design the product was done through iterative conversation with a computer. This process began with the help of Autodesk, who provided Starck with access to a research prototype of Autodesk’s generative design software to be his “partner.”
“When Philippe gave me his idea and the results of his work done in collaboration with Autodesk,” says Claudio Luti, President of Kartell. “I immediately accepted the challenge of starting an industrial production on a project that for the first time was not born of our direct relationship or the dialectic between me and him in these thirty years of collaboration.”
The idea of generative design further explores technology, and allows designers and engineers to input their overall design goals, which includes materials, manufacturing methods, and cost constraints. The software computes an array of possible solutions and generates multiple design alternatives, learning rapidly what works and what doesn’t.
“Working with Starck and Kartell has been an inspiration. The opportunity to understand their design philosophy and approach to problem solving is incredibly valuable for our team as we think about how to fulfil Autodesk’s vision for the future of manufacturing,” says Mark Davis, senior director of design futures at Autodesk. “This is a research collaboration at the pinnacle of the industrial design world, resulting in one of the most creative outcomes we’ve ever tried to achieve with generative design.”
With “two” minds at work, the software and Starck became more of a partnership time every day.
“This process evolved into a creative conversation much like what would happen between two humans. But to get there, we had to bridge the gap of understanding between the designer’s vision and what an intelligent yet still immature version of our AI was able to deliver,” says Davis. “In getting to know each other, Starck was teaching the system about design intent while the AI was trying to learn as much as possible, in order to be as helpful as possible. As the relationship between the two matured, the system became a much stronger collaborative partner, and began to anticipate Starck’s preferences and the way he likes to work.”
Those working in this area of research hope that eventually the designer won’t have to learn the software, but instead the software will learn the designer and shape its software to better cater to the designer.
Below is the Elbo chair that was fabricated using Autodesk’s Dreamcatcher software. Similar to the process Starck pursued when creating his AI chair.
“The task of design…is to try to make daily obligations bearable so that we can love them,” Starck says.
Filed Under: AI • machine learning, Rapid prototyping