Is Artificial Intelligence Coming for Our Business?

This question has taken on real life meaning with the recent arrival of ChatGPT and a slew of other AI products.

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

It’s the natural evolution of computer programming. Larger, faster computers make programs possible that were just dreams earlier.

For example, ChatGPT will respond to commands (called prompts) in everyday language to do amazing things. It will write poetry, write an essay calling upon its vast knowledge base, it will write computer code, advertisements, love letters, etc. etc.

This image was generated by the site, Dalle 2 AI. I submitted the prompt "Interior designer that is a robot realistic style, like a photo."

A robot pitches an interior design plan.
Image generated by Dalle 2 AI.

Can AI Automate Interior Design?

A lot of interior-design websites using AI have popped up. First they are awe-inspiring: submit a photo of a room, and the site redesigns the room in a style that you specify. 


But after a few iterations, the “Wow!” factor droops and disappears.

Here are some examples from InteriorAI allows users to submit a photo and quickly get a design in one of the site’s pre-chosen styles.

Original shot of room to be designed by online AI program.

Shot submitted to

InteriorAI then transforms the photo into a redesigned room in a “contemporary” style.

File from online AI software of room designed by AI.

The site can transform a picture into a dozen styles, from "farmhouse" to "modern." I stuck with "contemporary."

Here’s a photo of an old friend’s living room that I shot and submitted.

Photo of traditional living room before AI transformation.

InteriorAI kicked out this “contemporary” rendering.

Traditional living room re-rendered by AI to a contemporary style

That’s it. 

InteriorAi does not allow for the designer to specify the color of the paint. Or place a particular rug on the floor or place a piece of furniture or any of the countless, unpredictable details that crop up during a room design. 

Current Score Designers vs Machines

Residential interior designers: Still Champs!

AI: Participation trophy

Why Residential Interior Design Is a Big Challenge for AI?

The short answer: too many design elements.

A residential room can have several pieces of furniture from several manufacturers in different colors and patterns, paint from different paint companies, carpeting and or rugs, window treatments, wall pictures, throw pillows with different patterns, personal pictures on the walls, electronica like TV screens, a bar with glassware, etc. etc. You get the idea. This can be just the beginning.

Accurately rendering a room like this is practically impossible with any technology we know of today.

Rest Easy, Designers

“When a designer can snap a picture of an element and have software that will immediately configure the element to be viewed from any angle at any size and can insert it into the computer design, I don’t think there is a practical, everyday use for home residential AI design,” said Mike Bailey, vice president of Addison/Dicus & Bailey.

Usable “shoot and insert” technology is not available.

The cost to develop it would be astronomical. Who will invest the money? The market for this specialized software is not that big.

So residential designers relax. Even when the software becomes available, it will not replace the designer/client relationship that has always sustained our business. 

A computer can’t take clients to shop for important elements like rugs and fabric. A computer can’t suggest compromises in choices. A computer can’t choose colors from wall swatches. Etc. Etc.

Commercial Interior Design - A Different Story

Meg Hattan, South Carolina Managing and Design Director of commercial interior design firm PMC, said that the design software used by the firm, “...saves about 30 percent of the time...” between concept and installation. 

“We use this software to ‘design in real time’ with our customers, where we can make live adjustments, and get a better understanding of how their furniture will relate to their space and how it will look/feel when they receive it,” she said.  

Below is a look at an overall design plan with suggestions where elements will fit in.


Rendering of office space by software using AI.

Once PMC designers submit design elements to the software, they can separate out parts for closer inspection.


Partial view of office design rendered by AI software.

The manufacturer of these chairs inputs images of their products into the software. Large sales volume makes the effort worthwhile for these and other suppliers.

Here’s a shot of the installed setting in place at the client’s office.

Final office setting designed by AI software.


Here’s another shot from the final installation. 

Photo of completed office section originally rendered by AI software.


Here's this location as shown in the overall rendering.

Overall office design with arrow pointing to discussed area.


Artificial intelligence is much more ominous-sounding than the old fashion "new version 3.2" that we've become accustomed to hearing about. But in fact, AI is a natural iteration of software made possible by the growth in the power of computing hardware. 

When AI Is Available to Residential Design 

It'll be a blessing.

One can see that a day will come when someone can tell a machine to design a room and get a reasonable rendering along with a table of sources. 

That someone will probably be a professional designer, who will be delighted with the time the program saves her.