Between Algorithm and Aesthetics: How AI Changes the Design World

I recently tried out Midjourney, a platform that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to generate images of all kinds. From images of cats in clothes to concept art, to photo-realistic interior designs, you can let your creative mind run wild. The results are truly impressive.

Of course, I couldn’t resist letting the AI generate a few minimalist designs for me. It’s amazing how quickly and easily you can create new designs with the technology. However, I found myself asking the following fundamental questions: what does this development mean for designers? Is it even legitimate to call designers’ work “their own” when it’s generated with the help of AI? How does the design world change when a designer no longer has to put their own hands to work?

In recent years, artificial intelligence has entered our world in many ways. It undoubtedly brings a new era of creativity. Through advanced algorithms that are able to learn from countless examples and create new creations from them, we are confronted with an almost infinite resource of ideas.

But what about creative integrity here? Authenticity and originality? If you let an AI create designs for you, where is the artistic or personal touch? And to what extent can we consider works created with the help of artificial intelligence as our own work? How does it change the perception of people who, for example, put furniture in their homes that they know was designed by an AI? Does it matter at all?

A minimalist AI generated Table Lamp Design | Aesence
AI-generated minimalist table lamp design. It should be noted that it has similarities with already existing lamps. But what design is truly unique in today’s time? © Aesence
A minimalist AI generated Chair Design | Aesence
This design does not exist. I created it with the artificial intelligence Midjourney. But wait – did I create it or the AI?
© Aesence

Perhaps there is an undiscovered opportunity here – the designer becomes the curator, selecting the right elements from a wealth of possibilities and assembling them into a cohesive overall concept. Ultimately, it is still up to the designer’s experience and individual preferences to decide which AI-generated designs will work and make it into reality.

Then it quickly becomes clear that technology is only a tool and that human creativity, experience, and interpretation are still needed. Designers can use it to complement and extend their work and explore certain areas more deeply.

The designer becomes the curator, selecting the right elements from a wealth of possibilities and assembling them into a cohesive overall concept.

This is an exciting topic, and it remains to be seen how technology will evolve and what long-term impact it will have on the design world. One thing is certain, however: we need to adapt to this change and challenges and keep asking ourselves what we want to create. But instead of fearing this development, designers and other creatives should see it as an opportunity to use their creative potential in a new way. This leaves enough space and energy to concentrate on the aspects that really count: Namely, designing objects and products that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional, meaningful, and sustainable.

How do the designers among my readers see it? How do you feel about AI-designed products? And what about the design lovers? Would you put a piece of furniture in your home that you knew was designed by an AI?

Further Reading

About Exploring Aesthetics:

Sarah loves asking questions and exploring the things she engages with on a daily basis. Exploring aesthetics is her column which discusses art, design, and aesthetics to explore, inspire, and question the status quo.

  1. Very interesting article, Sarah! As a designer, I have mixed feelings about the development of AI in our industry. On the one hand, it opens up new possibilities and can help us with brainstorming. Especially for repetitive and time-consuming tasks, AI can be a tremendous help to better focus our creativity on the truly essential aspects of design. I think it’s important to think of AI as a tool and not as a replacement for human creativity. This way, we can get the best of both worlds while highlighting our individual skills and strengths as designers. Regarding the question of whether I would want an AI-designed piece of furniture in my home: as long as the design is appealing and functional, I don’t see a problem with it – at least for me 😉

    1. Thanks for your comment and perspective, Simon! It’s always interesting to hear opinions from people in the industry! You’re right, it’s important to think of AI as a tool and not a replacement for human creativity. Humans and AI working together can lead to incredible results, and by leveraging their strengths and focusing on our individual skills, we can shape the design world in new and exciting ways.

  2. Hi Sarah, thanks for your opinion on the subject. I think it’s important for a designer to put his personal touch into his work. If a piece of furniture or product is designed by an AI, I think it loses its soul and therefore my interest. I would therefore not be willing to spend a lot of money on it. Because that’s why I buy and like designer furniture – it’s been charged with a soul and an understanding of the environment and function. And that can never be replaced by an AI.

  3. Photography and Impressionism are two significant art movements that were not initially considered art by some individuals or institutions in the late 19th century. Both were met with skepticism, criticism, and opposition from traditionalists who favored more realistic and academic styles of painting and drawing.

    Photography was initially viewed as a mere mechanical reproduction of reality, lacking the creative input and personal touch of traditional art forms. However, as photography evolved and artists began to experiment with the medium, it became clear that it could be used to create powerful and imaginative works of art. Photographers like Ansel Adams and Diane Arbus have produced iconic images that are widely recognized as works of art.

    Similarly, Impressionism was initially met with criticism and dismissal from traditionalists who favored more realistic depictions of the world. However, the Impressionists sought to capture the fleeting, subjective experience of light and color, and in doing so, they revolutionized the art world and paved the way for modern art movements.

    The same can be said for AI art today. While some individuals may view AI-generated art with skepticism or dismiss it as lacking the creative input and personal touch of traditional art forms, it is an evolving and multidimensional field that offers new ways of exploring and visualizing complex data sets, generating unexpected and innovative imagery, and exploring new modes of interaction between humans and machines.

    1. Peter, thank you for your insightful comment. Indeed, there have always been changes and upheavals in the art and design world that were initially met with resistance and skepticism. Ultimately, these upheavals have turned out to be positive and enriching developments that have led to greater diversity and depth in the creative process. Why shouldn’t that also be the case with AI art?

  4. As a designer and technology nerd, I find the idea that artificial intelligence can change our creative output and the way we design fascinating and I’m definitely looking forward to the future!

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Aesence is an independent art and design publication dedicated to minimalist aesthetics. Founded out of a deep appreciation and fascination, Aesence aims to promote awareness and appreciation of minimalism in art and design.