These Funky AI-Designed Chairs Are the First Commercial Product Created by a Generative Algorithm

The furniture debuted at Milan Design Week

The AI-designed chairs were created with Autodesk's generative design software. Autodesk

Legendary French designer Philippe Starck is using artificial intelligence to create trendy chairs.

Starck recently teamed with household brand Kartell and software maker Autodesk to create what they claim are the first chairs designed by an algorithm and the first commercial product conceived by generative AI. The resulting curvy plastic seat, which debuted this week at the Milan Design Show, is the latest example of AI’s growing ability to synthesize data into a form of creative output, ranging from mock-classical art to photorealistic landscapes.

In this case, Starck designed the furniture by plugging a set of conditions into an experimental version of Autodesk’s generative design software. He said he wanted the most structurally sound and comfortable chair possible with the least amount of material used.

“Kartell, Autodesk and I asked artificial intelligence a question: Artificial intelligence, do you know how we can rest our bodies using the least amount of material?” Starck said in a statement. “Artificial intelligence, without culture, without memories, without influence, responded only with intelligence; it’s ‘artificial’ intelligence.”

From there, the process evolved into something resembling a conversation as the software explored every possible option within the given parameters and learned from Starck’s feedback, according to Autodesk.

“This process evolved into a creative conversation much like what would happen between two humans. But to get there, we had to bridge the gap of understanding between the designer’s vision and what an intelligent yet still immature version of our A.I. was able to deliver,” said Mark Davis, senior director of design futures at Autodesk.

While the chairs aren’t available for sale yet, Autodesk said they will hit the market sometime soon. This more sophisticated version of Autodesk’s generative design software is also still in its prototype stage; previous tests have included an interplanetary lander in partnership with NASA and automobile components for lightweight electric cars.

@patrickkulp Patrick Kulp is an emerging tech reporter at Adweek.