Can you explain more about Tilly’s role and function at Studio Snoop?
We created Tilly ourselves in-house from our own AI technology, and I consider her to be a co-designer and a member of my studio. I put a very big, open-ended brief into Tilly in the process of preparing our five initial product designs for Milan, and I gave the same brief to my human team. I didn’t say I wanted a chair or a light, I gave them these really broad ideas and keywords like water, air and wellness, and they used these as a basis for their initial design explorations.
They started to input information into Tilly and kept on refining and developing the ideas she returned. This process went back and forth several times, encouraging them to consider alternatives, additions and refinements to design elements like colour, form, tone, texture, functionality and far beyond.
Human designers always strive to improve their knowledge and broaden their consciousness, but I think we need to learn to work with AI to really collaborate and solve larger design issues, hence why we created Tilly. My team is very talented, but Tilly presents a new realm of possibilities. When you work with her and the AI software she allows you to break through the ‘glass ceiling’. AI is what elevates our work.
What has been the public response to Tilly and Studio Snoop’s designs exhibited during Milan Design Week?
People are intrigued by Tilly and they are curious to engage with her via the interactive technology we have on-site accompanying each of the five designs, which range from lamp-like sculptures, to side tables, to a reimagined radiator heater. They are proactive in giving Tilly design feedback and constructive criticism across the five designs. I think Tilly has an important message for the global design community, and I wanted to use this week as a platform to start the conversation about design responsibility, and how we can use AI in order to create a better and more sustainable design future.
Will Studio Snoop actually put these five designs into production?
Yes, we definitely will. It’s been really interesting observing how the designs have evolved after each day based on the feedback people have given Tilly. Sometimes the feedback is purely based on aesthetic refinements, sometimes it’s more about functional requirements, and sometimes it’s purely conceptual. At the end of the week we will assess whether the evolved designs are better, or whether we stay with our original designs. The idea is that the chosen final designs will eventually go into production, and we’ll show the pieces at London Design Festival in September, alongside the craftspeople who produced them.
‘Lazy Grace’ is an interesting example of the design evolution we encourage as a part of this process. Our initial design was a take on the traditional ‘Lazy Suzan’ table. On the first day people commented that the turntable in the centre was too perfect, and that we should think about making it more organic. The second iteration of the design had this really huge terracotta bowl in the centre of the table, and other modifications were made to the table like a different style of legs and the addition of different colours.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to designing with AI. How do you know when a design is ‘finished’?
In the case of this project, we gave the timeframe of a week. I think our team developed some strong designs to begin with, and we worked really hard on the process of preparing them. But at the end of the day, we’re in Milan surrounded by the world’s best design thinkers, so we thought it made sense to engage them and see how we could improve our designs across the week.
What does Tilly mean for the future of design?
We have only given Tilly quite limited knowledge and beliefs, and her design consciousness will continue to expand as more people engage with her. We are looking to start gently incorporating ideas of Country into her values system; a respect and understanding that every material has an ancient generational history. We’ll keep building her to be an ambassador for the future of conscious and intelligent design.
I’m so excited for the future and how human design consciousness and creativity will expand by working with AI technology like Tilly. As a designer, I don’t think she is ‘dumbing us down’, as some people suggest. I think she is elevating and challenging us. I’ve never seen my studio so excited and energised before. She is allowing us to access new realms of design possibilities in a way we haven’t before. We’re excited because we can keep learning from her everyday
Tilly is not just a problem solver, she is stimulating new ways of thinking about and engaging with design across all aspects of life.