The fabric designed by artificial intelligence is here

The AI ​​is already cracking the bar exam, writing college essays and coding—it was only a matter of time before someone put it to work drawing floral chintz. You enter FabricGenie, an AI-powered textile design tool created by entrepreneurs Danny Richman and Carl Fisher, the owner of UK-based fabric company The Millshop Online.

My background is in SEO and had worked with [The Millshop Online] on marketing, but more recently I experimented with AI and realized they could use it to generate designs, Richman says. That morphed into the idea of ​​making it a public tool that anyone could use.

The move was rooted in more than just technological prowess. Designers would approach us to print their designs, adds Fisher, whose company started out as a retailer, moved into wholesale, then developed a digital textile printing operation. The problem was that the images weren’t always in the correct format. now consumers and designers can create something that is unique to them by themselves.

FabricGenie allows users to enter a series of hints of red flowers against a cream background, say, and receive a pattern, complete with rework, delivered free via email minutes later. If you like what you see, swatches, digitally printed on cotton or a cotton-linen blend, cost $8. Ordering a print run of your pattern costs $27 per square foot.

FabricGenie launched just a few weeks ago but has already garnered significant interest from a newly fascinated AI audience. Within a week of launching, Fisher says the tool, which requires users to provide an email address, had received requests for 3,800 drawings and 500 sample orders. Most of it was within the limits of normal taste. Some don’t.

The fabric designed by artificial intelligence is here

FabricGenie allows users to enter a series of prompts and receive a pattern, complete with job repetitionsCourtesy of FabricGenie

We’ve had some really weird requests, Richman says. Someone asked [former British Prime Minister] Theresa May surrounded by cheese. We’ve had quite a few that even bordered on the indecent. That was one challenge we had with this, was to set up a moderation system. People will put vile language in this thing and you have to stop the AI ​​from generating it.

Most of the technical challenges were simpler. Image-generating AI tools like Dall-E and Midjourney can already generate models when required. The trick, Richman says, was to get one to produce accurate repeats, scaling the resulting image to the necessary resolution, and building a user-friendly interface. Link that to a company that, like Fishers, has the ability to digitally print fabrics and you have a business.

Like most AI tools, FabricGenie has limitations. While it can produce surprisingly good basic models, its creations, even the weird ones, are an algorithmic averaging of pre-existing images. You can get him to cough up an image of Theresa May surrounded by Brie, but don’t go for it to break aesthetic ground. And, like all existing AI tools, you can’t fine-tune the work of FabricGenies; If you like everything about a pattern but want a flower to be blue instead of red, there’s no option to edit the pattern. You have to start over.

The technology isn’t perfect yet, Richman says. But it evolves every day and every week, it will only get better. Right now is the worst it will ever be.

At present, FabricGenie appears to be primarily an effective marketing hook for The Millshop Online. But Fisher and Richman are optimistic that once the public gets used to the idea of ​​generating their own tissue patterns, the tool will see more use. The two are planning to market it to interior designers and white label it for other sites. I’m a firm believer it will yield a lot of yardage, says Fisher. Every interior designer can come up with something personal for every client.

And what about textile designers that FabricGenie is potentially losing their jobs? Some have embraced it, says Fisher. Some don’t.

Homepage image: a pattern generated by FabricGenie with flowers and fruit | Courtesy of FabricGenie

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