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Digital Bulletin: Is it Real? Or is it AI?

Can we incorporate AI programs into our businesses to get creativity flowing and/or help streamline tasks?

By Diane Falvey
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Leslie Carothers, left, designed this bedroom space using Midjourney by typing into the program what she wanted it to look like.
Leslie Carothers designed this bedroom space using Midjourney by typing into the program what she wanted it to look like.


We seem to be headed into a whole new way of working as AI programs grow smarter and more robust. Can we incorporate them into our businesses to get creativity flowing and/or help streamline tasks? At some point, the answer is likely yes.

One such tool that’s come to our attention is Midjourney. Midjourney is an independent research lab exploring new mediums of thought and expanding the imaginative powers of the human species, according to its website. It focuses on design, human infrastructure and AI. Midjourney generates images from natural language prompts — or descriptions — similar to OpenAI’s DALL-E and Stable Diffusion.

How can Midjourney and other AI image generators be used in interior design? According to digital guru Leslie Carothers, Founder of the Savour Partnership, it has its place. Carothers has been using her interior design background to play with room design in the program, and the platform shows promise.

“For designers, it’s fast ideation,” Carothers says, noting that it’s not going to deliver the perfect image the first time around.

“If I have an idea and write a text prompt, often what comes out is better than I would have expected, but it won’t be exact. The surprise element is really fun though, and it gets your creativity flowing,” she says. “You can then take the idea and refine it, just as you would in a real design process.”

She reminds us that this is not a rendering, however, or something you’d want your clients to purchase from. “Renderings are for accuracy, so you can see and feel exactly what you’re going to get.” However, when you need to stretch yourself or envision what a client is asking for, Midjourney can be a useful tool. According to Carothers, when you put in text prompts, ideas come up in five seconds.

If you like those ideas, you can adjust them in an instant as well. “The room designs come out with a general feeling and color scheme,” she continues. “And you can share ideas with clients so they become a collaborative part of the design process. I think that could be a fun experience for the client.”

As designers, however, Carothers cautions, you need to make sure your time and design services are protected, and build any AI play into contracts. “Right now, the designer has the upper hand. You can add this into your contract. ‘Our contract includes two hours of ideation with a program like Midjourney. Then we move to the rendering phase, where work commences,’” she suggests. After that, she says, it’s important to charge for changes. “It’s important to keep projects on time and in the range of investment.”

You can also use Midjourney and programs like it to design furniture or other custom pieces for clients as well, saving time during the creative process. Once again, you need to remember that what Midjourney is giving you isn’t necessarily accurate.

Right now, designers have an upper hand because they understand accuracy. A homeowner can create a space they love in Midjourney, but it may not be achievable. A designer will understand what can and can’t be accomplished, Carothers notes. “As we train these things, AI will get more accurate, but it’s not predictive at this point.”

That AI imaging can give homeowners lofty ideas, however, and is another place for some caution. Whether created by the homeowner or by you, executing on these images can have challenges and it’s important to be transparent. It might be fun to play with Midjourney and create inspired rooms for social media, blog posts or presentations, but it’s also important to label them as AI imagery so there’s no confusion for clients. “I think that transparency will become a competitive advantage,” Carothers says. “The problem arises when a homeowner sees an image and hires a designer and the designer can’t deliver on the image.”

Obviously, for Midjourney to work for you and your design business, you need to understand how to prompt the program to correctly deliver on the design in your mind.

Text prompts can take some education and practice. Carothers shares a pro tip: “Use your imagination with text prompts and describe what’s in your head. Write it as accurately as you can. Don’t use keywords. You are trying to tell a computer what this image should look like. Be as descriptive as you can down to the tiniest detail. And you want to make sure you use the word ‘design,’ as in ‘design a living room.’”

Understanding how to prompt is probably one of the more important things you can learn when using AI. Carothers and Annilee Waterman are hosting a workshop on Midjourney and the Metaverse in June, talking about what you can create, how you can create it and how the Metaverse and AI can work together to help you build revenue.

You can reserve your spot in her program here: eventbrite.com/e/midjouney-and-the-metaverse-new-revenue-opportunities-tickets-615206197297

Leslie Carothers, Founder of the Savour Partnership
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