This page was printed from

AI reimagines the couch but human designers still essential

Swatches | October 1, 2023 | By:

In collaboration with Panter&Tourron, the IKEA design lab SPACE10 set out to use artificial intelligence (AI) to reimagine the couch to make it more sustainable and light enough for one person to carry. 

The prototype was made with two adjustable “wings” on the ends. Wings could be added in multiple positions, as in this concept image. Images: SPACE10

“Initially, it was impossible to escape the typical shape of the couch whenever the prompt ‘couch’ was used with AI tools or platforms,” note the designers in the information about the project. “By using alternative prompts and descriptions, such as ‘platform,’ ‘lightweight,’ ‘sustainable,’ ‘recyclable’ and ‘easy to move,’ Panter&Tourron were able to generate a series of modern couch designs that are lightweight, adaptable and circular—and a break from the traditional archetype.”

The initial input into the AI program did not come up with what designers wanted. They ended up with bulky, odd, cube-like shapes.
The designers had to experiment with the terminology that they input to go from bulky furniture designs to the lightweight, sleek design they ended up making into a prototype.

“Outdated, unsustainable design archetypes embedded in large language models are problematic in algorithms and negatively impacting the future of design,” says Alexis Tourron, designer and co-founder of Panter&Tourron. “Presently, AI can only take us so far in design innovation before craft and the human hand needs to intervene.”

The prototype was shipped flat from Switzerland to Denmark. These are concept images, but the flat pack illustrates why designers are calling it a “couch in an envelope.”

The design specifies aluminum, cellulose-based fabrics and yarns, and mycelium foam, which would make the couch recyclable and weigh 10 kilograms (22 pounds), with the two adjustable “wings” on the ends. It is stackable and simple to disassemble and move since it doesn’t have screws nor require any tools.

The prototype of the couch is part of the exhibit “Design in the Age of AI,” which will be up until the end of November at the SPACE10 Gallery in Copenhagen, Denmark. Admission is free. The prototype ended up weighing more than designed, as it was constructed of steel due to timeline constraints.

There is not currently a plan to create the couch as a product, as it was just a design experiment. 

Share this Story