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(Real) Interior Designers Critique Spaces Designed By AI

interior design

Can AI match the skill and creativity of an interior designer? We put Interior.AI to the test.

Words by 

Megan Hill

Published on 

March 31, 2023, ai in interior design, ai role interior design, ai interior design renderings, ai tools interior designers, can interior designers use ai, interior design critique, interior design review, interior design expert, Artem Kropovinsky, Arsight, Renee Hundley, Dream Nest Interiors, Ana Maria Torres, at architects, Diana Hathaway

Does AI have a future in the world of interior design? An ongoing debate within the interior design world asks whether AI is a threat to the interior design craft, whether interior designers can learn to work collaboratively with AI as a tool, or whether indeed designers can ignore the AI craze altogether! We're curious too, so we set up a little experiment. We asked Interior.AI to design several rooms, taking infamous design styles for inspiration. Then we asked real interior designers to offer their critique. See how AI measured up...

Meet the experts

Artem Kropovinsky. Artem is the founder of NYC-based interior design studio, Arsight.

Renee Hundley. Renee is an interior designer and co-founder of Dream Nest Interiors based in Ventura County, CA.

Ana Maria Torres. Ana Maria is an architect, interior design and landscape designer. She is the founder of award-winning architecture firm, at architects.

Diana Hathaway. Diana is the founder of Gorgeous Color, an interior design firm specialising in colour consultancy and Feng Shui design.

French Farmhouse bedroom

French country bedroom design

Artem Kropovinsky: This design is a somewhat okay starting point for human interior designers seeking inspiration. However, it still contains odd elements, such as the large mirror that isn't aligned with the headboard. The carpet's repetition and small size next to the bed on the right appear illogical. Furthermore, the mix of different ceiling lighting styles creates a disjointed look.

Renee Hundley: This bedroom has an agreeable colour palette of warm earthy tones. However, it also has major flaws, noticeably making the room appear off-balance. The mirror is poorly placed based on its size and proportion to the bed. There is a sconce that appears to be protruding from the mirror instead of the wall. The potted topiary is oddly placed at the foot of the bed, and the rugs underneath the bed are not placed correctly.

Luxury bathroom

AI bathroom design

Diana Hathaway: In this bathroom, AI didn’t understand what makes a bathroom luxurious or useful. The resulting design is cold and uninviting. The overwhelming stone or tile texture creates a busy space that doesn’t achieve that "retreat" vibe it was going for. The scale of the room and elements are not balanced, so the Feng Shui does not promote positive “chi” energy. Curved walls and openings may have intended to give the bathroom an organic feeling, but instead creates a cave-like experience.

Artem Kropovinsky: The excessive use of grey in this room, featured on the floor and two walls, leaves the space feeling suffocating and lacking in airiness. The absence of alignment and harmony is evident, and the wavy shapes seem arbitrary. Overall, the interior comes across as uninteresting.

Renee Hundley: Spatial planning is lacking in this rendering with the poorly placed tub. The colour palette is very bland and one-dimensional. The walls and floor are made of the same material, which offers no variation of texture or colour. Besides the large bathtub, there’s nothing that screams a luxurious bathroom here.

Art Deco living room

Art deco living room design

Ana Maria Torres: Whilst I appreciate the geometric shape of some of the furniture pieces incorporated in this design, the proposal is lacking a hierarchy. There is no focal point, everything blends together in this living room. Instead, the opulence of the Art Deco style could have been replicated by using a repeated and bold geometric pattern on the walls, while the rest of the décor remains a backdrop to that. Instead, you could match an upholstered sofa to your wall colour and bring in bold artwork.

Diana Hathaway: AI understood some things about Art Deco, as the shapes are correct. The sheer clutter of the room is the antithesis of good Feng Shui—any decorating style can benefit from the balance of decor and open space. The monochromatic colour scheme is soothing but doesn’t support its attempt at Art Deco style. Even in the most neutral spaces, colour is an important part of Art Deco-inspired design, and often the palettes are filled with cool colours.

Scandinavian kitchen

Scandanavian kitchen design

Ana Maria Torres: Scandinavian design is typically a minimalist look, with a warm touch introduced by the texture of natural materials. In this case, the colour combination, the cabinet design, the cabinet layout and their relationship with the appliances, and the choice of black tubular light fixtures all speak to traditional minimalism. But what is missing is the friendly and sociable characteristics of the Scandinavian kitchen as a place to hang out and chat. The clean lines of this Nordic-inspired kitchen are all very well thought out in their entirety, while they have ample light and some warmth from the organic natural materials included.

Renee Hundley: This kitchen is missing some major spacial planning elements, with its extremely heavy cabinetry all on one wall and nothing to break up the heaviness of the floor-to-ceiling cabinets such as open shelving or glass doors. The layout of cabinetry in a kitchen is the single most important way to give the feeling of openness and function. One of the biggest flaws is the island placement in the room, with not enough walkways all the way around it. The colour palette is very bland, and nothing produces the feeling of a “designer” touch. The backsplash could have been a different shape or a little more vibrant to give it life.

Maximalist living room

Maximalist living room design

Artem Kropovinsky: Overly vibrant colours mean this interior could be difficult to live in. The decision to merge two distinct sofa styles in one space feels awkward. The room is cluttered with excessive details, and without a clear focal point, it feels overwhelming. The dominant colours clash, making the space uncomfortable to occupy.

Ana Maria Torres: Many think of Maximalism as “more is more" but to me, individuality is the essence of maximalist design. While maximalism allows for a wide range of bold colours and a variety of shapes, it should still be intentional. The design should have a common thread weaving through the selection of colours, furniture, and décor. In this maximalist living room, the colour palette is adding a cohesive element to the space. It feels intense, but it does not feel disjointed.

Diana Hathaway: AI definitely ran with the “maximum” in maximalist. The nuances of the style were lost — yes, the room is maximalist, but it misses the mark by being too maximalist. The resulting design is jarring, as it lacks visual relief. The key to a successful maximalism design is to include some areas without decor, to allow you to take in the colourful and curated chaos around you. In this AI design, the colours appear to be perfectly balanced and distributed throughout the room, but that shouldn’t be the goal. Human eyes are able to use colour in varying portions to achieve balance, while AI sees it as a math problem. There is no allusion that maximalism can fit into a Feng Shui aesthetic. Feng Shui’s main goal is to balance energy, and a well-done maximalist room is just bursting with energy. There are not enough Feng Shui cures or tips to change that—the energy is the beauty of a gorgeous maximalist space.

The verdict

Artem Kropovinsky

AI is great for many things, but not for interior design. Interior design is about creating spaces that reflect the personality, preferences and needs of the client. AI cannot do that because it lacks human intuition and empathy. It can only follow predefined rules and algorithms that are impersonal and superficial. AI is not ready for interior design yet. Maybe in the future, it will be able to learn from human designers and create more personalised and creative solutions. But until then, we interior designers prefer to use our own skills and experience to deliver high-quality interior design services that meet our clients' expectations and satisfaction.

Renee Hundley

Renderings are a large part of visual aid used in the interior design industry and are seemingly an easy area to substitute a real-life person. However, is there really a substitute for the emotion and personal touch that comes from the creativity of the human mind? The appeal of AI is apparent in terms of simplicity and possibly even cost-effectiveness, but these renderings are proof that AI lacks that special touch. The “wow” factor is still something only a human can produce.

Ana Maria Torres

I believe that our sense of beauty and our understanding of the nature of the spaces we inhabit are intertwined. Each new project and client offer that possibility.  The French novelist Stendhal offered the perfect expression of this intimate affiliation between visual beauty and our perception when he wrote that “beauty is the promise of happiness.” Artificial intelligence is unable to bring that unique and personal spark to a design—at best it’s a personal shopping research tool. Each designer holds the keys to making a space unique and personal to the client and knows the best way to communicate those ideas. The best designs are those in which the client’s personal vision is combined with the particular qualities of a space—the designer’s own personal experience and vision are the glue that brings them all together. Al does not—cannot—bring that personal meaningful touch to design.

Diana Hathaway

Interior design, like art, relies on nuance to create liveable spaces. The spaces that interior designers create are meant for humans and they speak to a human experience. As a designer or an artist of any kind, it’s our collective memories, moments, and impressions, that allow us to create meaningful art or spaces for other humans who find it resonates with their life. AI cannot speak to the human experience which includes the spaces we live in. AI could be useful for business applications in the interior design industry as it’s a detail-heavy industry. It could also be used to generate ideas which an interior designer could then apply human nuances to, to create a space more quickly. I would think of AI as an assistant in interior design, but I wouldn't trust it to deliver client-ready designs.

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