Picture this: You’ve been itching to design or revamp that corner of your house, but you want to and are ready to do it right. You’re willing to invest if you have to.
You consider pulling out the big guns by hiring a pro—maybe that one designer you’ve been stalking on Instagram for the past 3 years—because you know what you like but can’t put all the pieces together on your own.
Ten years ago, that would have been your only option. But today, all it takes is a quick Google search, a photo of the space you want to breathe life into, and with the click of your mouse, the perfect solution you’ve been searching for is at your fingertips! (Or so it would seem.)
That’s the type of speed, accessibility, and affordability Artificial Intelligence has ushered into the interior design market.
For some, the hottest computer science innovation is a bridge into a new world chock-full of creative possibilities.
To others, it’s something to be wary of, resisted, and feared.
In my industry, most would fall into the latter category and I doubt I have to explain why. If you’ve been paying attention to the chatter on the internet, you’ll know that plenty of people are afraid of how the introduction of AI will impact creative careers. And on the consumer side of things, people are starting to ask themselves, “Why should I opt to pay a designer, writer, or artist when AI is capable of getting the job done for free?”
I’m here to cut through the noise and share why I believe AI is incapable of replacing humans working in creative industries.
When it comes to interior design and crafting the space of your dreams, that proves to be especially true.
What is AI Design?
Artificial Intelligence is a branch of computer science that creates machines capable of completing tasks that would normally require human intelligence. I’m talking about problem-solving, decision-making, learning, and adapting—the whole shebang, really.
Which is why AI is often used to generate text and images on the fly. And it’s exactly why designers, writers, and creatives of all sorts balk at the idea of AI becoming more widespread in their respective fields.
This is where misconceptions start to muddy the water.
According to the developers themselves, the end goal of AI is to help people as they go about their day-to-day lives, not replace the roles they play in the workplace.
Think of it this way: AI is a tool like any other tool before it.
Sure, it’s the most powerful tool to date, but using AI isn’t the same thing as waving a magic wand and getting your ideal results served up on a silver platter. Just because AI is capable of generating new ideas in seconds does not mean they are better than the carefully crafted, personalized solutions proposed by their human counterparts.
When it comes to designing your dream interior, you lose far too much if you cut out the designer and stick to AI designed spaces only.
For one, AI lacks nuance. They are literal in the sense that what you give them is what you get out of them. If you ask for a series of design solutions for a tricky room in your house, you will be given those solutions but you won’t be able to ask “why?” nor will you be given better options based on factors you didn’t consider in the first place—something professional designers do on a daily basis.
When you work with an interior designer, you have access to all the years of experience they have under their belt. AI is only as good as its code and its coders are (likely) not interior designers.
That said, before you nix the idea of working with a pro altogether in exchange for AI design, it’s important to fully understand the role a designer plays in curating a space in your home.
The Role of an Interior Designer
Designing your dream interior is not as simple as picking out beautiful things to fill your space.
Your desires and needs for the space you live in goes beyond a surface-level understanding of form and function, which is precisely what AI has to offer its users.
Instead, a seasoned interior designer will get to the heart of how you live and how you would like to live in the future.
When I take on a new client, I consider their needs from all angles.
Do they like to host on a regular basis?
Or is their home more of a private sanctuary to escape into?
Do they travel often?
Do they share their space with children or pets?
Which rooms in the home are used the most?
Are there seasonal changes to keep in mind?
Are there health issues to take into consideration?
These are just a few of the questions we dive into during our initial consultations at HCD because getting to know our clients on an intimate level is the first step in the design process.
After all, interior design is about individualism. It’s concerned with how a person or family lives and how a space functions before any aesthetic decisions are made. That’s one way us designers are able to serve our clients and where AI design is severely limited.
We address our client’s needs holistically. AI does not.
Now, let’s take a closer look at what AI design is capable of and what it lacks in comparison to a human interior designer.
Below is a case study based on my own work and the work of an AI available on the internet today.
Can you feel the difference?
Human Design vs. AI Design
A recent project we completed at HCD was a client-centered bathroom refresh that I can't get enough of!
To prove my point about AI Design and its limitations, I thought I'd compare the design I dreamt up for my clients with an AI-generating software solution I found on the web.
The image to the left is the Before photo of my client's bathroom. When I fed the AI Design program this photo and specified my preferred design style, it generated the image below.
While the mockup is inviting, well-lit, and visually interesting, there is a stiffness to it that is common to AI-generated imagery.
It's as if the program knows which pieces should be included and how to arrange them in the space provided, but has no grasp on how a person would navigate or live in the "optimal" space it created.
What purpose would the large ottoman in the center of room serve for its owner other than look pretty? Is there an alternative solution that would allow the room to flow better? These are questions you can work through with a professional but not with an AI Design program.
Another limitation I encountered was the number of inputs or requests I was able to make for this particular AI. My real world clients had their hearts set on including a steam shower in the redesign but there was no way to communicate our priorities with this program. It goes to show that AI will only have an inkling of what your goals are based on how many specific inputs you're allowed to provide it. It can't read your mind and it can't get to the core of what you desire; it can only churn out possibilities based on a surface-level understanding of what you're hoping to achieve.
Through consultations, client homework, and site visits, I was able to come up with a peaceful and dreamy solution that fit my client's goals, desires, and lifestyle needs to a T. Collaborative discussion and creative exploration were critical parts of the design process. Every bit of information I gathered—from their daily routines to their color preferences—came together in a space that has proven to be both beautiful and functional. The result is a one-of-a-kind interior that can grow with my clients through the years.
Through this mini case study, my suspicions were confirmed: AI can generate images but it does not generate art.
Not in the way humans do. And certainly not the kind of art this is both beautiful and functional.
Only human designers can go beyond superficial preferences and come up with designs that are practical, inviting, and have a soul beyond the surface. Only humans can approach interior design in a way that promotes social connection, emotional wellness, and creative expression that's unique to the individual.
Why Human-Designed Interiors Are Not Replaceable
I’ll tell it to you straight: AI is taking the world by storm and there’s no way of stopping it now.
So rather than pushing back against the inevitable or trying to turn back the clock, I believe it’s wiser to embrace the qualities and capabilities that have set humankind apart from every other species since the beginning.
In other words, it’s important not to lose sight of what human designers have to offer that AI design never will.
Humans understand that interior design isn’t simply about making a space beautiful or optimizing its functionality. It’s about how a person lives and is dependent on their needs, health issues, and lifestyle as a whole.
When you work with a designer, part of the process is building trust and an intimate relationship with another person who’s invested in bringing your unique vision to life.
You’ll have direct access to and can leverage the real world experience they’ve built up over years of working in their industry.
You’ll receive professional guidance and recommendations based on human knowledge that can’t be replicated by any sort of technology, no matter how powerful it is.
And you’ll be partnered with someone who knows their craft inside and out, and who knows you. What makes you tick, what wouldn’t work for your routine and lifestyle, what kind of life you want for yourself and everyone else under your roof.
In the age of the digital kiosk and trying desperately to reach another person for help over the phone, human connection is more valuable than ever. It only makes sense to design a space with a passionate professional who can see it, touch it, move through it, and experience it with you.
P.S. Read on for a blog post written by AI that you can compare to this one. Let me know what you think!
Just For Fun: An AI-Written Blog Post (by ChatGPT)
Prompt: Write a blog post about the differences between AI designed interiors and human designed interiors
Title: The Battle of Design: AI-Designed Interiors vs. Human-Designed Interiors
In the era of advanced technology, artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a powerful tool capable of transforming various industries. One such domain that has witnessed the integration of AI is interior design. Traditional human-designed interiors have long been the norm, but now AI is stepping into the realm of creativity and innovation. In this blog post, we will delve into the differences between AI-designed interiors and human-designed interiors, exploring their unique characteristics, benefits, and limitations.
AI-Designed Interiors: Precision and Efficiency
AI-designed interiors offer a fresh perspective on design by harnessing the immense computational power and data analysis capabilities of artificial intelligence. These systems are trained on vast amounts of design data, encompassing different styles, color palettes, furniture arrangements, and architectural elements. Here are some key features of AI-designed interiors:
Data-Driven Design: AI algorithms analyze extensive datasets to identify patterns, trends, and preferences in interior design. This enables them to generate designs that align with popular choices and contemporary aesthetics. The use of big data empowers AI to create designs that are likely to appeal to a broader audience.
Speed and Efficiency: AI algorithms can swiftly process large volumes of data and generate design options in a fraction of the time it would take a human designer. This efficiency is particularly useful for commercial projects or tight deadlines, where rapid turnaround is essential.
Optimization and Space Utilization: AI can optimize space utilization by considering various factors such as room dimensions, natural lighting, and traffic flow. By employing advanced algorithms, AI can suggest furniture layouts and configurations that maximize functionality and comfort.
Personalization and Adaptability: AI can adapt to individual preferences and needs by learning from user feedback and data. Over time, the system can refine its designs to better suit the user's style, making it a highly personalized experience.
Human-Designed Interiors: Artistry and Emotional Connection
Human-designed interiors have a distinct touch of artistry and creativity that stems from the imagination and expertise of experienced designers. Here are some defining aspects of human-designed interiors:
Creativity and Artistic Expression: Human designers bring a unique artistic flair and creativity to their work. They possess an innate ability to envision and conceptualize spaces that reflect the personality, taste, and lifestyle of their clients. Human designers can go beyond data-driven solutions and create spaces that evoke emotion and tell a story.
Intuition and Emotional Understanding: Designers possess the ability to understand the emotional needs of their clients and incorporate them into their designs. They can interpret clients' desires, aspirations, and memories to create spaces that resonate on a deeper level. The human touch enables designers to create personalized interiors that foster emotional connections.
Flexibility and Adaptability: Unlike AI, human designers can adapt and think on their feet, incorporating last-minute changes or unexpected challenges during the design process. They can collaborate closely with clients and tailor designs based on feedback, ensuring a more responsive and flexible approach.
Craftsmanship and Attention to Detail: Human designers have a meticulous eye for detail and can oversee every aspect of the design process, from material selection to the placement of decorative elements. Their expertise ensures a high level of craftsmanship, resulting in unique and bespoke interiors
The Synergy of AI and Human Design
While AI-designed interiors and human-designed interiors have their respective strengths, the future of interior design lies in the harmonious collaboration between humans and machines. The synergy between AI and human designers can amplify the benefits of both approaches, resulting in exceptional design outcomes.