Can Artificial Intelligence design a shoe?
A quick scan of the popular DALL-E 2 program for terms like “Virgil Abloh-inspired sneakers” or “Yeezy sneakers” spits out a “best guess” that sounds like unlicensed dollar-dollar bootlegs. It’s clunky, sterile and lacks the narrative of what excites us about these designers. If we want AI to help “move the culture forward”, it’s not the machines for the job.
By rethinking how artificial intelligence can improve design, Deep Objects sought to create a model where human input was essential, building an AI engine that democratizes the design of cultural artifacts. Built by creative studio FTR (whose credits include Nike, PUMA, Google, Marni, Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott and Daft Punk), the team has been working on the project in secret for nearly two years.
For issue 01, its first project, Deep Objects starts with sneakers, creating a “decentralized design studio” that will bring “1,000,000 choices down to 1”. They aim to do this with their HUE (Heuristic Unsupervised Entity) artificial intelligence engine: a GAN model (a machine learning framework) that they have been training for two years.
Why does a decentralized design studio run on AI? For Deep Objects, HUE is less about creating a tool that designs better than humans and more about building on the power of collectively intelligent design:
“We believe in constantly engaging, exploring and challenging emerging technologies and tools. HUE happens to embody that exploration right now,” says Deep Objects founder David Stamatis.
“For me, an endless appetite for learning new ways to express creativity and ideas has always kind of propelled the work forward. Finding ways to create new entry points for design. notes that with advances in AI, a more engaging, human-centered model is key to improving design.
“The truth is that AI has already impacted the design industry in so many ways over the past decade. With the accelerated advancements in diffusion models (Dall-E, Midjourney, Stable Diffusion) over Over the past year, the potential that AI will have in all types of creative endeavors has become more widely known and mainstream, and people and designers are now directly engaging with it in droves. It’s super powerful.
What we try to explore at Deep Objects is how a more controlled and proactive relationship between designers, AI, and “consumers” can lead to amazing design objects. We want to build a new model of how a studio works.
As a decentralized studio, Deep Objects invites a limited number of culture enthusiasts to join in designing their first sneaker.
On October 10, Deep Objects will sell 10,000 NFTs through its website, giving token holders a pass to participate in the design studio for as long as they want. However, just before the drop, they will be visiting Highsnobiety’s Discord for an AMA on October 7th.
Hitting on Ethereum, the first NFTs from Deep Objects will serve as a pass to be part of number 01. With it, token holders will be able to organize and design their own digital shoe, which uses game theory to suggest patterns that users can then customize to their liking.
Once the 10,000 shoes are generated by the community, they will vote for a top 30, which will then be transformed into 3D models. Finally, everyone votes on which shoe becomes a real item, which can include extras like IRL limited runs for token holders, 3D NFT airdrops, and more. When the collection is complete, the current owners are first in line for the next group of objects.
When asked if he was worried about “groupthink” during the Deep Objects community process, Stamatis mentioned a phenomenon he helped invent, the Limp Bizkit Paradox.
“Basically, when Napster and online music downloading democratized music consumption, we saw a large majority of people just listening to a lot of Limp Bizkit,” Stamatis explains. “Are we afraid to do Limp Bizkit? Sneaker bizkit? Ouch… The reality is that I have no idea what will come out of this, but it’s extremely exciting for me – that’s why I love design and the creative process.
Whether you thought Limp Bizkit was an iconic or regrettable staple of the late ’90s, people loved the band for a variety of reasons. Majority rules, which is why Stamatis believes Deep Objects’ decentralized approach will help challenge the age-old top-down model of design studios.
“I strongly believe there is an alternative to the cult of the famous designer, the starchitect, the figurehead of the office where the ego is as strong as the taste that has placed them in a position of power,” Stamatis continues.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against the Ye’s, Virgils, or Zaha Hadids of the world. In fact, these are the same personalities who blazed the trail between industries that helped define my own career choices, which I I ‘I’m grateful for that. But, the master/apprentice model of the design office is tired. The alternative is hybrid and involves a community.
To ensure they recruit the right people into their ecosystem, FTR personally purchases 1,000 NFTs from the collection to donate to design schools/programs, as well as up-and-coming creatives. Additionally, 25% of all profits generated from each Deep Objects drop collection will be donated to the Studio Opportunity Fund, designated to be reinvested based on vote and approval.
With a list including “cars, chairs, houses, and sneakers,” Deep Objects hopes this “democratic design” process will help it become what Stamatis envisions to be “the most sought-after design studio in the world.” world”.
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