Design / Technology
Aibio is probably the first furniture designed by AI and 3D-printed in wood-based materials
”Our goal is to create a closed loop for the material so that it can be redesigned and reused again and again,” says Interesting Times Gang’s co-founder Alexander Westerlund on the design studio’s coffee table — their first concept to be created together with biomimetic generative-design algorithms.
11 Oct 2021

Founded by Westerlund and Sean Barrett, design and product studio Interesting Times Gang combines experience from furniture, automotive interior, experience design, interior architecture, and digital technology to explore the creative spaces that exist at the intersection of design and technology. 

— Our concepts can be best described as what happens when the inevitable meets the impossible, Westerlund tells.

Their first launch, coffee table Aibio, is made from a bio-composite consisting of 50 % wood fiber and 50 % recycled plastic. Sanded and finished either raw or with water-based paint. Westerlund describes it as a way to free themselves from the rectilinear limitations of traditional production processes — and create the ability to work with generative AI.

— It’s our first concept to be created together with biomimetic generative-design algorithms, and then 3D-printed in wood-based bio-composites, he tells. Exploring large-scale 3D printing allowed us to break the moulds both literally and figuratively. Often you are in absolute control of the design process and you can plan every stroke. With generative AI as a design tool not as much, I have to admit that in the beginning, it was hard to let go. But also quickly noticed that the more we did, the more interesting results we achieved. Losing control and trying to find it again, in a way a struggle against oneself, that in the end resulted in something very beautifully organic.

What’s so unique about it?

— This concept is the first item of furniture we know in the design world, to be designed by AI and 3D-printed in wood-based materials. Algorithms have been used to design furniture before, and we are certainly not alone in 3D printing with bio-composites, but they have never, to our knowledge, been combined in this way. The real uniqueness, apart from the form itself, lies in the closed-loop material ecosystem.

”The only way to make things better is to make better things”

Yes, you mention that your ultimate goal is to keep everything within the material ecosystem.

— Every year the design and furniture industries contribute over 12 million tonnes to waste streams in the EU alone. Only 10 % is recycled or reused. Design is about solving problems. As designers, we can’t ignore the fact that by continuing to contribute to these waste streams we are creating more problems than we solve. So our goal in using bio-composites is to create the ability to take back an object when it reaches the end of its life, grind it down to make new bio-composite pellets, and then 3D-print entirely new objects with what was once, for example, a coffee table. Within this ecosystem the material has the potential to be reused almost indefinitely, Westerlund explains. He adds:

— The cynical reader might think that a table or chair created with circular design principles won’t change the world, but then again they probably couldn’t imagine that a schoolgirl sitting outside the Houses of Parliament in Stockholm would start a revolution either. 

— The only way to make things better is to make better things.

Interesting Times Gang has been commissioned by two Michelin Star chefs in Sweden, to help create interior objects for a new restaurant concept. 

— This new concept will obviously be part of our closed-loop, circular material ecosystem, and will be released in the coming months. We recently also created the immersive exhibition Hyper Human for the Museum of Science and Technology in Stockholm. It’s an amazing space that we are super proud of, consisting of over 600m2 of interactive experiences and AI-generated interior design, created to manifest the intimate and complex relationship between humans and digital technology, Westerlund concludes.