Need labels for your product? A new logo? A new website? Have AI design them

As we’re sliding into 2018, it’s safe to say AI-powered machines can do just about anything. They can detect breast cancer. Paint a new Rembrandt. Even tell us if there’s fresh coffee in the kitchen.

So it was only a matter of time before artificial intelligence found its way into design. Last year, we used the AI-powered tool Brandmark, developed by Jack Qiao, to redesign TNW’s logo. The software works by identifying an icon, font pair, and color scheme based on some keywords about the brand. The results were somewhat underwhelming — nothing to fire our designers over just yet:

Other attempts were more successful, however. Last year, as part of a marketing campaign, Nutella used an AI-powered algorithm to design seven million labels for their product. Some of the colorful designs showed polka dots, others featured zigzag lines, yet each design was one-of-kind. The “Nutella Unica” jars, which were only available in Italy, sold out within one month.

Should designers and artists be worried about these algorithms coughing up ready-made designs? Maybe a little, says Dutch robotic engineer and artist Edwin Dertien who works at the University of Twente. Last year, together with Janwillem te Voortwis, he built DrawBot, a huge painting robot that can reproduce existing images on large canvases.

Although DrawBot needs software to calculate which colors to use — the machine allows for a maximum of eight different paint colors — it’s not a very intelligent machine, says Dertien. “I prefer robots to be an extension of my own creativity, as opposed to them being the masterminds.”