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How an AI Graphic Designer Convinced Clients it was Human

Nikolay Ironov was a popular designer at  Art. Lebedev Studio, Russia’s largest design company. Ironov had worked on more than twenty commercial projects, creating everything from beer bottle labels to startup logos. Clients’ loved his work.

There was just one small thing – Ironov was not human

Logos created by the AI. Property of Art.Lebedev.Studio

Art. Lebedev. Studio built an AI that could execute every stage of the design process, from understanding the context, to creating a final logo and exporting the files for media use.

To demonstrate Ironov’s capabilities to publication The Next Web , Sergey Kulinkovich, the studio’s art director, first pasted “The Next Web” into one text field of the system, and The Next Web’s “About” page into another. Seconds later, the AI spat out a stream of logo ideas and then was able to apply the selected route across interfaces like business cards.

Where did this leave designers? Kulinkovich says he doesn’t believe that humans can be completely removed from the creative process. Instead, he wants them to “transition from designers to art director that choose the best option from Ironov’s millions of creations.”

Design is Not Going to Save the World

Jesse Weaver (Director of the Entrepreneurial Design Studio at University of Colorado) presents a thought-provoking view of design.

Weaver says that human-centred design – which has been so much in focus – is a great tool to build a better mousetrap (or mop, in his example). But it is not very good at looking beyond the immediate use-case. He cites the example of ride-sharing, which in its infancy, was supposed to eliminate excess traffic by making more people keep their cars in their garage. Design (and the business model) was optimised for that, not thinking about what larger impact this could have and indeed, ride-sharing apps have led to an increase in vehicular traffic and a drop in public transport usage.

Design, argues Weaver, has not solved any of the larger problems such as climate change or poverty despite solving for micro-elements of it.

This is not to say human-centred design is bad. It is important to recognise however that it is great at what it is supposed to do but cannot be seen as a way to solve the world’s problems.

What is Good Design?

This article from Google Design asks designers to list an object that represents good design. The answers range from corn cob skewers to playing cards.

User Researcher Izzie Zahorian chooses an orange, “Because each part is essential.” Senior Interaction Designer, Andrew Ng, says that Lego is an example of good design because it represents “a partnership between a voice and the vehicle of expression.” There are other less-intuitive choices like a Polaroid camera. (“It distills complexity into the press of a single button.”) Interestingly, not a single Apple product figures in the list.

What would a similar list from India look like?

The New Darwinism

Brand consultancy mcgarrybowen launched a website on how consumer preferences and behaviours will change in a post-covid India.

While there is nothing shockingly new, the site serves as a handy reference for trends and projections across verticals like consumer durables, restaurants, groceries and travel. It is clear that, whether you’re selling soap or experiences, you will need to factor in hygiene, contactless purchase, restrained hedonism and practicality.

Marketers will need to factor these trends in and designers will need to adapt their solutions for many of these solutions, be it product communication or new user experiences. Overall, the report makes for a good read, although it is not without its faults. The homepage is straight out of a Silicon Valley spoof presentation. It also introduces some rather unfortunate terms like FOSO (Fear Of Stepping Out).

Pro Tip: Use some of the trends in the report to make pro-active pitches to clients.

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