Two Chinese Designers Challenge Traditions, Old and New
How can design break the limitations of culture, the subjective experiences of the designer and the reactions of different people, to become as diverse as nature? How will artificial intelligence change our lives in future? Not only will voice controlled services be fundamental, AI will also help create objects for everyday life. This exhibition is a pioneering project to incorporate AI into the design process.
Through numerous experiments and practice with different products and art forms, Zhang Zhoujie Digital Lab strives toward the goal of enabling the creativity of the computer to participate in the daily lives of people. The chairs in this exhibition are a demonstration of the infinite possibilities of these computer-generated designs.
For more than eight years, Zhang Zhoujie has been exploring how the computer can map the real world and how to create different kinds of designs based on individual human interactions. This led him to develop his hardware Sensor Chair, a custom-made apparatus with 66 tactile-sensitive contact elements, which can collect data when people sit on it. He also developed software to use those data points to generate chairs in various forms that fit an individual’s body, each with a unique design. Each chair is thus the result of collaboration between people and computers.
According to Zhang Zhoujie, “Human emotions, instincts, and needs are complementary to artificial intelligence.” Through this exchange, there is a ‘human-machine’ interaction which represents the future of creation and production.
At first glance, one could imagine these chairs come from another world, full of futuristic perspectives and surprising angles. Though each is unique, as if a freely grown object, all are constructed of the same material and structural logic to create a unified whole.
Furniture designer Zhoujie Zhang is known for the integration of automated digital design and elements of spontaneity and chance. “I believe that objects in the digital world will grow as nature does, in an organic way, but we just need to discover why and how that happens,” he once said. To produce his objects, Zhang inputs basic mathematical instructions into a computer and allows the program to generate their forms. The pieces are then cut, assembled, and polished by hand in his in-house workshop; consequently, they exist in highly limited edition sizes. In the future, he envisions using a method of production with the aid of artificial intelligence, in which he takes as little control as possible. Zhang received a degree in product design in China, and an MA in industrial design from Central Saint Martins in London.
Chinese, b. 1984, Ningbo, China, based in Shanghai, China