Generative Design Software Turns Any Photo Into a Custom Colorway

Ergonomic seating generally leans towards palettes dictated by bland monochromatic options. But if industrial designer Chris Ference has a say, one day we will all have the option to customize colorways of existing products like home office seating using AI and generative software to sample any image and generate endless options using those sampled colors.

Ference’s concept uses one of the more attractive ergonomic seating options available today as a template, the Herman Miller Sayl. Designed by Yves Béhar, the Sayl’s “fewer parts, less material” form offers an ideal canvas for his explorative exercise, with a mixture of hard and soft materials that parallel that other product regularly color customized: sneakers.

“With Herman Miller releasing the 3D files of the Sayl Chair, I wanted to explore how new colorways could be created developed based on generative results,” explains Ference, “This project was created using Processing to generate the colorways and Keyshot to render out high fidelity versions of the chair. Creating the palettes is the link that connects these two programs. To quickly generate results, the program masks over specified components of the chair and fills the layers with colors pulled from the source images.”

“What makes the program so powerful is its ability to produce thousands of results in seconds.”

Ference’s generative design exploration results in a distinct variety of colorways using only three colors across the chair’s componentry, an intentional limitation. “With future iterations, I see the tool being able to choose the colors for each part of the chair,” notes Ference.

Such a generative software tool is not only envisioned to permit companies to offer customers the tools to customize their product with bespoke designs similar to existing services like NikeID and Xbox Design Labs, but Ference also imagines this solution beneficial for designers seeking a fast and accurate addition to their digital workflow for generating mood boards and trend exploration studies.

Ference is currently seeking partners interested in developing his tool, alongside developing improved methods to best filter through generated results to streamline review.

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