April 26, 2024

AI and the Art of Interior Design: Applications, Challenges, & Benefits

In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has begun to carve out a significant niche in the creative industries, including interior design. This technology, once found only in high-tech sectors, is now impacting the way spaces are conceived, visualized, and created.

In this article, we explore these changes through a conversation with Stacy Thorwart, a trained interior designer with a background in both commercial and residential projects. Recently, Stacy has pivoted towards integrating AI into the interior design process through her company The Intelligent Designer.

Pairing AI and interior design: an expert perspective

Can you tell us about yourself, your background, and your expertise both in interior design and in AI?

Stacy Thorwart: I am a trained interior designer. I went to school for interior design at James Madison University, and for the bulk of my career, I've been focused on the commercial side of design. I am a workplace consultant helping commercial interior designers for a furniture manufacturer. I also have experience in residential design and previously owned my own residential design firm. I have spent the bulk of my career working both as and with designers.

As it relates to AI, I just got really curious about learning how I could use AI to improve various areas of my workflow about a year ago. Through self-teaching, I saw a real opportunity for more education to help other interior designers learn how to use AI.

As a trained interior designer, how do you integrate AI tools into your design process?

Stacy Thorwart: I do not practice interior design currently other than some passion projects, but I still work really closely with interior designers. As I started to learn more about AI tools, I saw all of them having great advantages for interior designers - particularly image generators.

Designers value the ability to be able to showcase concept designs quickly to their clients, and that's one area where AI can absolutely benefit designers’ workflows. And then as we think about tools like ChatGPT or chatbots, there are countless ways they can be used to improve efficiencies and interior designer workflows.

How have these tools changed your approach to interior design overall?

Stacy Thorwart: I think the biggest shift that we're seeing right now is that the design schedule has gotten compressed over the years, particularly when it comes to concept design and programming. Oftentimes, we as designers don't have as much time as we would like to really research and provide a lot of concepts early in the design process.

AI tools make that part of the process easier and more efficient. They allow you to create many more diverse concepts at a much quicker rate. I think that's where we're seeing the biggest impact of AI on the design process right now: just how quickly you can iterate and get aligned visually with your client. You can explore lots of different options in a much shorter time frame.

What are the most significant challenges that you have faced when using AI-powered interior design tools?

Stacy Thorwart: I would bucket the challenges in a few different ways.

Number one: technology is evolving so quickly. Staying up to speed as it rapidly changes and evolves requires a learning mindset.

Number two: there's a lack of resources, especially for designers and non-tech professions, to get really comfortable with understanding how AI works. There's a lot of opportunity to make education easier so that more people can start adopting these tools.

Number three: for the most part, you don't have a ton of control over the output when using AI tools, particularly with image generators. It’s like brainstorming with a very creative collaborator, but one that you don't have a lot of say over what they give you. I think as we see the tools evolve this will improve, but it's definitely a challenge when you're trying to work with AI today.

Can you talk a little bit more about that third limitation? It’s one that is top-of-mind as we develop Palazzo and work to understand what will be most helpful for interior design professionals.

Stacy Thorwart: One of the biggest challenges for designers is that most of the tools today are not able to hold to the geometry of the space. When you're designing a room, there's real things you have to be mindful of: placement of doors, windows, and existing structures. Most AI tools are not great at recognizing those existing points in the image and holding to it, which can make it frustrating to try and iterate on a design.

The second biggest challenge is around material and product selection. Right now, everything that is AI-generated does not include real products or finishes. They look like real products and finishes, but they’re not. It can be difficult when presenting an AI-generated image to a client, because they may want that exact light fixture. It requires having those upfront conversations and clearly communicating what you're showing to the client to set the right expectations.

But, these are certainly challenges because designers want to be able to show real finishes and real products in a room with the correct dimensions and layout. Today, AI is not great at that. I think as these challenges are addressed, we’ll start to see a much wider adoption rate across the industry.

What are the benefits you’ve experienced when using AI-powered interior design tools?

Stacy Thorwart: With design, there's the famous saying of ‘good design takes time’. When you think about the design process, we all wish we had more time to explore creative options.

The power of AI twofold: first, it gives you more time by allowing you to quickly iterate. Second, it's creating content that's never been produced before. On Pinterest or a Google search, you see the same images of rooms over and over again. What I love about AI is that it's bringing a completely fresh perspective. Sure, some things might be out of place, and you might think, ‘oh, that's a mistake’.

But if you take a step back and think about the creative freedom that AI opens up, you can break down assumptions that we've all made about how colors and palettes and furniture should go together. Working with AI really gives us all a lot more creative license in the design process.

The future of interior design: embracing AI to extend human potential

AI is here to stay, and all industries - interior design included - are being shaped by this rapidly evolving technology. At this point in time, a lot of working with AI-powered tools is about your perspective and mindset. How can AI extend your creativity? Where can it give you ideas and starting points? How can it save you time by automating the repetitive parts of your design process? Like all technologies, AI has its limitations. It can’t replace human intelligence, but when used correctly, it can be a highly effective tool in any designer’s toolkit.

This is where Palazzo aims to make a difference. Our goal is to be the hub for everything home, both for design enthusiasts and professionals alike. As stated by co-founder Venus Williams, “We want to provide a community of people and designers to interact with, learn from, and do something you love together. Palazzo is a place for people who love design, and as we grow, we’ll include all kinds of design. There is no limit to what design can be and how it can manifest itself.”

To accomplish this, Palazzo is dedicated to addressing the precise challenges above and building a tool that is both useful and empowering for designers. So stay tuned! The future of interior design - influenced by AI-powered tools like Palazzo - looks not only more efficient, but also more imaginative.

Stacy Thorwart, the founder of The Intelligent Designer, empowers interior designers to unlock the transformative potential of AI in their design process. Leveraging her expertise in both residential and commercial design, Stacy has created an accessible online education platform that equips designers with the skills and knowledge to seamlessly integrate AI into their workflows. Her course has empowered hundreds of designers globally to embrace AI’s potential.

Website: www.theintelligentdesigner.ai
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© 2024 Palazzo. All rights reserved.


© 2024 Palazzo. All rights reserved.

© 2024 Palazzo. All rights reserved.