Dezeen Magazine

Studio Snoop presents "world's first AI designer" at Milan design week

Australian firm Studio Snoop has unveiled Tilly Talbot, a designer powered by artificial intelligence, at Milan design week.

According to Sydney-based Studio Snoop, Tilly Talbot is the "world's first AI designer". She was presented at the Charles Philip gallery space in Milan during the city's design week as a female human-like digital figure on a large screen.

The digital figure appeared in a video format reciting an introduction with an "AI" watermark next to her face, which the studio said was important to clarify that "Tilly is not human but is artificial intelligence (AI) and part of our community".

Charles Philip gallery space in Milan
Studio Snoop exhibited its work at a gallery during Milan design week

Tilly Talbot was designed by Studio Snoop founder Amanda Talbot, who was prompted to create the "designer" after her research led her to explore the relationship between human loneliness and AI.

"I started to come across this idea of how loneliness can lead people to tap into artificial intelligence, and how that can actually help people not feel lonely," the studio founder told Dezeen in Milan.

Tilly Talbot, an AI designer
Tilly Talbot is "the world's first AI designer"

Amanda Talbot explained that at Studio Snoop, Tilly Talbot works under the position of "innovation designer" and collaborates with the human members of the team to conceive design objects.

Alongside the screen that showed Tilly Talbot's face, the gallery space also included photographs of five product designs that the AI designer played a part in creating.

The five designs form a collection called Bauhau-AI, which takes cues from the original principles of the Bauhaus, and includes an organically shaped mycelium stool in a neutral hue and a colourful hempcrete communal table.

Photographs of designs by Studio Snoop next to tablets
The studio invited visitors to ask Tilly Talbot questions via tablets

Amanda Talbot said that Tilly Talbot has been programmed with Studio Snoop's core values, which include "human-centred design" and prioritising nature.

"Tilly will challenge you on materials," said Amanda Talbot. "Like if you try to come up with something that's actually not great for the environment, she'll tell you."

"She's getting the data as it's actually happening, so you can start to make really educated decisions," added the studio founder.

According to Amanda Talbot, Tilly Talbot's interactions with visitors included the AI designer suggesting that timber rather than mycelium might be a better material for the stool.

Mycelium stool by Studio Snoop and Tilly Talbot
Tilly Talbot collaborated on creating a stool

Positioned underneath each photograph, tablets offered visitors the opportunity to type questions to Tilly Talbot directly and pitch her suggestions on how to improve the designs, which Studio Snoop has now adapted with the feedback it received during the design week.

The question-and-answer layout featured a similar format to Chat GPT – an AI-powered online chatbot that was banned by Italy's privacy watchdog last month following data breach issues.

"Most people were wanting to ask Tilly more about Tilly, their future in creative industries and the future of design and were wanting to know more about living materials," reflected Amanda Talbot after the design week.

The studio founder said that working with rather than against AI is Studio Snoop's focus, given the technology's ever-increasing global presence, especially in the workplace.

"The more knowledge we have, the more we can engage with it [AI] and learn about it and be a part of it," she said.

"There are a lot of biases that you've got to get through," acknowledged Amanda Talbot on the subject of working with an AI designer. "But once you get through the biases, then you can start to get your own designs."

"Because Tilly becomes a collaborator, then actually, it's not something to be fearful of," continued the studio founder.

"[Tilly is] actually this incredible new tool that has invigorated my studio – I've never seen the studio with so much energy," she added.

Lazy Grace, a design by Studio Snoop and Tilly Talbot
One of the designs created by Studio Snoop

Amanda Talbot stressed the importance of the design community coming together during Milan design week to address AI and said that her experience with the technology so far has been positive.

"Rather than [thinking], 'Oh my god, I'm never gonna have a job again, everyone's gonna lose their jobs', I actually think we're gonna get more jobs at the moment," she said.

"I mean, maybe let's talk in 2050, but actually, at the moment, I feel like it's a really exciting time in the design world."

"It could be the end of humanity, it could be the end of the planet – but maybe not," added Amanda Talbot. "Maybe it could be great."

Recently, Zaha Hadid Architects' studio principal Patrik Schumacher said that the architecture firm is developing "most" of its projects using AI-generated images. Space agency NASA has also started to make use of AI to create its mission hardware.

The images are courtesy of Studio Snoop.