May 23, 2024

AI as a Creative Tool: The Future of Interior Design

Artificial intelligence (AI) has disrupted various industries, and interior design is no exception. While still relatively new, AI is beginning to reshape how some designers approach their craft and the creative process. 

Join us for a conversation with Stacy Thorwart, founder of The Intelligent Designer, where we explore how AI is impacting the field of interior design, dispel common misconceptions, and discuss what the future holds.

How has AI impacted the field of interior design in the past few years?

Stacy Thorwart: Right now, AI in the field of interior design is still relatively new. A lot of design firms are just trying to get their arms wrapped around it. 

There are design firms on either end of the spectrum: there are designers that are really quick to embrace AI, and there are designers who are still skeptical or unsure about how to start using it. We haven’t yet seen the full impact that AI is going to have on the industry.

However, I think one thing that we will start to see soon is client adoption. For example, when Pinterest first came out, it wasn't long before clients started coming to designers with Pinterest boards. We should expect that as AI becomes more widely adopted: clients are going to start coming to design firms with images they've generated on AI. There's going to be a client expectation that design firms are using AI to enhance their processes. So, I think the firms that adopt AI early will be in a better position when those conversations start to happen.

What misconceptions have you seen around AI, both with clients and interior designers?

Stacy Thorwart: I think the biggest misconception is that AI is going to replace all of us, right? Especially as we first started to see image generators that say they can design an entire room for you. There's an immediate fear factor of “well, does this mean my job as a designer is no longer relevant?”

Talking specifically about the field of interior design - it is such a complex job. Designers are tasked with so many things, and because of that, it makes it a job that's actually highly unlikely to be fully replaced by a robot anytime in the future. So, I think that's the biggest misconception. 

We have to think about AI as a tool that we can add to our toolbox to enhance our process. There’s no way it could replace a designer now or in the near future.

There's a lot of concerns in all fields, including interior design, about AI stifling or replacing human creativity. What is your response to that, and how do you balance AI input with your own creative instincts?

Stacy Thorwart: I like to take a step back and think about all of the ways that we, as designers, find inspiration. We find inspiration from nature, we find inspiration from sketching on a piece of paper, we find inspiration from the internet on Pinterest, Instagram, and our favorite interior design blogs. These are all sources of inspiration, and we're not overly relying on any one of those sources. 

I would say we should think about AI as another creative well that we can pull from. It should add to our other areas of inspiration, rather than replacing them. I think of it as another tool that you can tap into to help with the creative process.

Looking forward, what AI developments or features are you most excited about and why?

Stacy Thorwart: From the image generation standpoint, I am super excited for tools to be able to better hold to the geometry of images that you upload. And alongside that, absolutely the ability to have more control over adding in real life finishes and realistic products.

I’m also excited to see the user interface and experience improve. Some of my favorite tools still have a pretty clunky user interface, which makes it cumbersome for designers to get started. 

There's a lot of inefficiencies in the interior design workflow, with how manual the process is. I'm excited to see how some of those inefficiencies can be alleviated as AI tools advance, so we can get more time to focus on what we really enjoy: the creation process!

What advice would you give to people who are hesitant to experiment with AI and incorporate it into their work process?

Stacy Thorwart: We all need to get aligned with the fact that AI is here to stay. It’s not a fleeting trend - not using AI is like saying you're not going to use the internet. It's going to be more and more embedded into the day-to-day tools that we're using. So, I think that the biggest thing is to just get over that fear factor. 

And then, start small! Pick one tool - a chatbot is probably the easiest way to begin, because there's no real learning curve. As you start working with at least one tool, you're going to get more comfortable seeing how you can collaborate with AI. The more you do it, the more you're going to realize other use cases. 

I think like anything else, the only way you're going to get really comfortable with AI is to keep trying and experimenting with a variety of tools. With the rate at which the tools are improving, the tool that you tried today could be completely different a month from now. So, really commit to learning a few tools inside and out and insert them into your workflow on a regular basis.

How do you predict the relationship between AI and human designers will evolve in the future?

Stacy Thorwart: What I get most excited about is how AI can really be a force for good in our industry through accessible design, inclusive design, ADA compliant design, and designs that are optimized for sustainability and energy efficiency. I think AI can help us solve a lot of those sticky problems that we're grappling with as an industry. I'm most excited to see it help us continue to advance in those areas of design.

Designing the future with AI

As AI continues to evolve, it presents both challenges and opportunities for the interior design industry. By embracing AI as a tool to enhance creativity and streamline workflows, designers can stay ahead of the curve and meet the growing expectations of their clients. At Palazzo, we are committed to building AI solutions that support designers and the home industry as a whole.

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.