AI Assisted Design – What is it? Is it good?

There’s been so much talk about AI – Artificial Intelligence – and whether it’s good or the downfall of society. I’d say it’s both. Bad actors can use it for ill purposes such as creating fake images or recording of real people and putting words into their mouths. That’s obviously bad.

Linda Merrill pleated lampshades blue and white marble kitchen with pleated lampshades over the island AI rendering AI Assisted Design
Design by Linda Merrill with AI assistance.

In the interior design world there’s a lot of discussion about whether AI will replace interior designers. It really won’t in my opinion – just because we can create a room – either by hand or with the use of generative AI doesn’t mean it’s right for a specific client, location or use. That takes real knowledge, skill and experience. But it can help speed along a process and open up the opportunity to quickly express a concept or idea. Or even create something that has never existed!

Thompson Traders AILA sink designed by Leslie Carothers with AI Product-Image-Branded AI Assisted Design

Here’s a great and real life example that just debuted this past week at KBIS (Kitchen and Bath Industry Show) to great acclaim – see this beautiful sink above? Have you ever seen anything like it? Interior Design industry marketing genius Leslie Carothers of Savour Partnership was asked by coppersmiths Thompson Traders to create a design for a new sink using AI tools like MidJourney. Leslie is always on the forefront of new technologies and advocating its uses to designers (like me) who may not “see” it for themselves. Leslie worked as a luxury interior designer for many years before moving into marketing and becoming the premier digital marketing agency in the USA for home furnishings brands and interior designers alike. So she’s got a designer’s eye and a business analysts’s thought processes.

Leslie fired up her MidJourney account and came up with this:

AILA-Vessel-Sink AI Leslie Carothers version AI Assisted Design
The AILA copper vessel sink as originally designed by Leslie Carothers for Thompson Traders using her imagination and AI design tool MidJourney.

And the artisans at Thompson Traders turned this idea into this:

Thompson Traders AILA sink designed by Leslie Carothers with AI black background
Thompson Traders AILA sink designed by Leslie Carothers with AI
Thompson Traders AILA sink designed by Leslie Carothers with AI
Thompson Traders AILA sink designed by Leslie Carothers with AI

Thompson Traders AILA sink designed by Leslie Carothers with AI

 

Isn’t this just stunning? You’re looking at a literal world’s first. Leslie shared the initial AI rendering last summer (she’s written about the process here) and I’ll admit I wondered how the Thompson Traders craftspeople were going to handle the drain – which wasn’t existing in the AI rendering.

Side note – AI renderings are not perfect and not entirely “direct-able”.  I couldn’t imagine what the drain was going to look like and how it wouldn’t interfere with the beautiful form of the sink – but Thompson Trader’s could and did. How elegant is this small little drain? They also widened and enlarged the sink for better real-world use. Also – how gorgeous is this copper coloring? All done with fire – no chemicals. This sink is a great example of how new tech supports artisan craftsmanship. This sink is made of solid copper – by hand (no molds or stamping) using the same tools & techniques passed down to these metalsmithing artisans since the 16th century.

Here is some more about the creation of AILA:

 

Linda Merrill AI design _clean_and_masculine_modern_bathroom_in_the_James_Bond AI Assisted Design
Linda Merrill AI assisted design

I’ve begun using AI assisted design to illustrate my blog posts – and it’s a game changer! I’ve been blogging for nearly 20 years (!!) and it’s always been a struggle to find great images to showcase whatever topic I was discussing. And I’ve gotten in trouble (which cost $$$)  for using images without permission. So now – in a series of clicks and texts prompts I can create unique images that are solely mine to use. It’s important – however – to make sure it’s made clear that these are AI generated and not real spaces. As you can see – my logo includes the AI designation as do my captions.

Linda Merrill AI logo

As AI gets better and better and users like me learn more about how to create realistic images – we’re all going to need to be discerning in what we’re looking at and content creators  also need to be very clear what is real and what is imaginary.

I created this image using MidJourney:

Linda Merrill AI design kitchen lmm6255_a_clean_and_masculine_modern_white_kitchen_in_the_James

which reminded me of this kitchen I photographed at the 2023 Newburyport Kitchen Tour:

 

3 Modern Farmhouse Newburyport Kitchen Tour 2023 white lacquer and terra elm cabinets marble waterfall island white kitchens
Builder: Ben Becker, BLB Design / Build and Kitchen Architects: Anne Barrett/ 30 E Designs + Eric Miller Architects Construction Administration
6 Modern Farmhouse Newburyport Kitchen Tour 2023 white lacquer cabinets door fronts Miele double oven white kitchens
Builder: Ben Becker, BLB Design / Build and Kitchen Architects: Anne Barrett/ 30 E Designs + Eric Miller Architects Construction Administration

I think there’s no doubt which kitchen is more beautiful and natural feeling – but the casual observer might not. Although my reflection in the ovens is a giveaway!

I thought I’d play around with creating my own vessel sink using AI assisted design – this is the progression from my first prompt: A ceramic floral vessel sink

Linda Merrill AI Design_a_high_quality_product_shot_of_a_ceramic_vessel_sinkjpg AI Assisted Design

To a refined version of the 4th image which I think is very beautiful but a little early 20th Century Arts and Crafts era for my taste

Linda Merrill AI Design_a_high_quality_product_shot_of_a_ceramic_vessel_sink AI Assisted Design

I have been in a pink mood recently so revised my text prompt to say something like “a pink floral ceramic vessel sink”:

 Linda Merrill AI Design_a_high_quality_product_shot_of_a_ceramic_vessel_sink AI Assisted Design

From which I played around with the fourth image which I think is pretty but a little flat.

Linda Merrill AI Design_a_high_quality_product_shot_of_a_ceramic_vessel_sink AI Assisted Design

I added the term “Japanese cherry blossoms” and “pink marble”

Linda Merrill AI Design_a_high_quality_product_shot_of_a_large_ceramic_vessel AI Assisted Design

And ended up here:

Linda Merrill AI Design_a_high_quality_product_shot_of_a_large_ceramic_vessel AI Assisted Design

Wouldn’t this be just the most spectacular vessel sink in a powder room? I like the dimensional looking spray of cherry blossom branches with the mix of pinks and coppery brown. Now all I need is the ceramicist to make it a reality. And the bathroom to put it in!

What are your thoughts on AI assisted design? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

AI Assisted Design

 

12 thoughts on “AI Assisted Design – What is it? Is it good?”

  1. I think AI can have endless creative possibilities, but I wonder how that will impact those in the creative field.
    You’re images are simply beautiful, I love that you shared this post to bring out the awareness of AI.

    Reply
  2. This is such a great peek behind the curtain of creating something in AI. Your real life kitchen is so much more beautiful, and your AI assisted vessel sink designs are just stunning – I hope someone takes you up on creating that cherry blossom one IRL!

    Reply
    • Hi Janet – yes I agree – that kitchen by Build and Kitchen Architects: Anne Barrett/ 30 E Designs + Eric Miller Architects Construction Administration is so much better than the AI.

      Reply
  3. Linda, I love the whole story about the Aila sink and after seeing what AI can accomplish when combined with the old world craftsmanship of a company like Thompson Traders, I am on board. I agee that transparency is key when using AI as a tool. Now, all we have to do is find someone to create your beautiful vision for a cherry blossom sink in real life. I LOVE it.

    Reply
  4. The question of AI design being good or not is something we see more and more every day. I don’t think it will be going away, so it’s something we should learn to embrace. Amazing decorative sink work by you and others, thanks for the sharing the smart details on this Artificial intelligence.

    Reply
  5. These sinks are amazing works of art!! I am still new to the AI game so it was really interesting to see what is possible!

    Reply
  6. Good morning, Linda ~

    Thank you so much for featuring my AILA sink for Thompson as part of this post. I really appreciate all of your kind words about it.

    And I want to say: AI has its pluses and minuses, and I truly hope everyone will follow your lead and label the images they share online with a badge of some sort saying, “Created With AI*. Transparency is paramount as AI images become more and more widely used by designers.

    Also, if anyone wants free badges to download, here’s a site that has some. This site was created by a friend’s brother, and there are no strings attached.

    https://www.aibadge.org

    Reply

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