The A.I. chair from Kartell, Philippe Starck, and the software company Autodesk has harnessed the power of artificial intelligence to forge a new path in generative design.

Words: Peter Moran

They’re calling it a “collaboration,” but the truth is, it’s much more complex than that.

To design a new chair for Kartell called the A.I., French designer Philippe Starck teamed up with an unlikely partner—an artificial intelligence program created by the 3D software company Autodesk. Starck started by asking the program a simple question: How can humans rest their bodies using the smallest amount of built material? Working back and forth with the software, Starck input a series of similar prompts until the computer learned what design solutions worked best for Starck’s needs. At the end of the man-machine collaboration, a design emerged.

The A.I. chair was launched at the Salone del Mobile furniture fair during this year’s Milan design week (check out other designs from the event, featured in our Spring issue, here). Billed as the “world’s first production chair created with artificial intelligence,” the A.I. is a fluid, light, organic shape created by injection molding, a technique the Autodesk software also had to learn, so that it could intelligently work within the constraints of the process.

The result is a turning point for generative design. Autodesk, as well as others who followed the project, hope that the advance in technology will offer a path forward for designers interested in harnessing the power of generative design in their work. At the very least, this kind of tech has the power to make designers’ lives easier and more productive. At best, this could open a whole new chapter in our approach to—maybe even our basic understanding of—design.