The autonomous world of artificial intelligence and digital art are taking the world by storm; with many AI engines fostering visualisation technology for realising design dreams. Midjourney, the brainchild of David Holz, co-founder of LeapMotion, offers itself as a proprietary artificial intelligence software that imagines the multifaceted design world through textual prompts. While the ethical question of whether AI visualisation platforms will soon replace physical jobs is debatable, many architects, designers, and visual artists have been actively using the platform for imagining and envisioning design concepts, that one can only dream of creating physically.
The American architect and visual artist Frank Jacobus delves into the world of AI, to create an intriguing series of furniture pieces inspired by fruits. “Using Midjourney, I explore how emerging artificial intelligence can envision new forms of hybridity and cross-pollination to fuse multiple objects with diverse identities into a new singular whole. In this series, I explore fruit and furniture as a hybrid through various surreal forms, shapes, and textures,” says Jacobus.
Midjourney appertaining the technological advancements that the world is currently witnessing, works through an uncomplicated process, wherein, the wildly imaginative textual prompts render multiple options for the user to select and enhance with a simple command ‘/imagine.’ Following this, the users can easily manipulate and direct a certain path, best suited to their imagination, to create satisfactory design results. Experimenting with furniture design, Jacobus intended an answer to the question ‘what happens if fruits become furniture?’ The result was a series of unconventional, fascinating fruit-inspired chairs functioning as an amusing seating alternative to real chair designs. Amongst a few of his experimental AI designs are—the grapes, papaya, melons, lime, blueberry, and dragonfruit chairs among others, that form the larger collection titled ‘Fruity Chairs.’ “The visual answers that the AI produced were fun sitting options that would be terrific chairs to physically produce. I even imagine the chairs having a subtle aroma of the fruit from which they were derived,” says Jacobus.
The artist has previously experimented with other AI design platforms, however, his imaginary interests were well-conceived by Midjourney, over a chain of text-to-image prompts. He explored the platform for its sheer intelligence and exemplary outputs. “The tool is going to create some great imagery, but the uniqueness of the imagery is going to be based on the variants you choose, knowing when to upscale, knowing when to remaster, and knowing when to iterate off the results,” states Jacobus. For his designs, the visual artist entered simple prompts to cross-pollinate the starkly different worlds of exotic fruits and functional chairs. For instance, for his Grapes chair, the prompt was “Grapes chair, white background, centred.” The uncomplicated prompt was run through the bot, with images improvising with every iteration, supported by the directional design sensibility of the artist.
The series revolves around the hybridisation of nature and design that Jacobus dreams of realising. Each piece is unique and rightfully captures the designatory essence of every fruit it is inspired by. The Dragonfruit chair reimagines the beautiful deep pink colour of the fruit and hosts the swirling flares as the chair’s backrest. Similarly, Jacobus’ favourite of the lot, the Pineapple chair, translates the spikes of the fruit as the crowning back of a contemporary armchair. The elemental references to the deep blue colour of the Blueberries are reimagined as the soft textural cushions of the Blueberry chair, while the contemporary curves of the Lime chair pose as chic furniture aesthetics. “I wish a fabricator would reach out to me and say, ’let's make these,’ I would love to realise them and actually sit in one but I'm not sure that's going to happen,” adds Jacobus, stating his interest in fabricating his digital dream designs.
The AI-generated design bots can visually manifest anything that can be imagined, but its impact on human creativity remains a critical question. Jacobus reinstates the importance of such platforms as important tools for formulating visual fields for artists and designers, that not just enhance the human-centric capacity to create, but also offer a safe haven for core creative impulses. He draws emphasis on how the platforms aren't a threat to human creativity, and will rather grow into an aiding tool to design industries globally. “The opportunities are truly endless and I'm positive about where this will go. Keep in mind, this is the beginning, not the end. What's next? Tools that allow immediate three-dimensionalization, tools which use natural language to create videos. These are tools that will be used to populate the metaverse—they're simply in their infancy. What's the expression—we are all primitives of a new civilization?” expresses Jacobus.
Expressing his interests in metaphors and hybridity as complex concepts in design, the American artist continues exploring the world of AI art and Midjourney. He is currently working on designing entrancing buildings inspired by birds.
STIR experimented with the Midjourney prompts to create some exciting design solutions, illustrated below.