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Testing AI's Interior Design Skills by Having It Redesign a Tiny Rental Living Room

Author: Abigael LinTime: 2024-02-13 22:30:01

Table of Contents

Introducing ChatGPT: The Incredibly Smart AI Chatbot

ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence chatbot created by Anthropic that has demonstrated some incredibly advanced language and writing capabilities. It can generate human-like text on a wide variety of topics, carry on conversations, answer questions, write stories, summarize text passages, translate between languages, and more.

While ChatGPT shows exceptional prowess with natural language, it does have some limitations. As an AI system without any visual perception, it struggles with spatial and visual reasoning tasks like interior design.

ChatGPT's Writing and Coding Capabilities

In terms of writing and coding, ChatGPT has shown it can match or even surpass humans in some areas. It can write persuasive essays, fiction stories, legal contracts, long-form articles, computer code, recipes, tweets - you name it. The text it generates often sounds indistinguishable from something a human would write. ChatGPT can also explain concepts, answer follow-up questions, correct mistakes, translate between coding languages, and even debug code. Its versatile language abilities enable many potential applications.

Limitations of ChatGPT for Interior Design

However, while ChatGPT excels at language, it lacks any visual or spatial reasoning abilities. As an AI system without senses, it cannot actually see or imagine the dimensions of a room in order to design a layout. This severe limitation makes tasks like interior design quite challenging for ChatGPT. It struggles to recommend furniture sizes and placements that make sense spatially. Any interior design would likely be conceptual only, not grounded in spatial reality.

Giving ChatGPT Design Specifications and Constraints

To test ChatGPT's interior design capabilities, clear design specifications and constraints were provided upfront. This included detailed dimensions of the living room, locations of doors/windows, intended uses for the space, and aesthetic preferences.

Clarifying the tight spatial requirements and intended multi-purpose functionality of the small living room rental set some ground rules for ChatGPT to follow.

Detailed Description of the Living Room Dimensions and Features

ChatGPT received precise measurements and locations of the living room's features to try to enable better spatial reasoning. This included the exact length and width, the placement of the large sliding glass doors, the openings to the kitchen and hallway, and the proximity to outdoor common spaces. Detailed information was given so ChatGPT could accurately imagine the boundaries of the space.

Listing Needs and Concerns for the Space

On top of spatial details, the lifestyle needs for the living room were also clearly spelled out. As a small rental, furniture choices needed to be affordable and temporary. Entertaining 6-7 guests is a frequent use case, so seating capacity was emphasized. Privacy concerns related to the sliding glass doors and proximity to neighbors were stated upfront to prompt appropriate window treatment ideas from ChatGPT.

Examining ChatGPT's Design Recommendations

Given a detailed problem statement and constraints, ChatGPT generated a variety of interior design ideas of varying quality and spatial awareness.

While some stylistic and furniture recommendations showed surprising merit, major difficulties emerged when determining furniture placements that made practical sense.

Initial Broad Style Recommendations

ChatGPT suggested clean, neutral Scandinavian-inspired aesthetic choices fitting a small, bright living room quite well. The focus on light colors, natural materials, and minimalist shapes aligned nicely with both interior design best practices and the stated style preferences. A calming, bright, and airy style scheme reflects ChatGPT's ability for broad conceptual interior design thinking.

Trouble with Spatial Understanding and Layouts

When determining specific furniture pieces and their placements, ChatGPT struggled mightily. It recommended improbable options like compact sectionals seating 6-7 people. And despite repeated clarification of the room layout, ChatGPT persisted in suggesting inaccurate and unusable furniture arrangements. While conversant in abstract interior design principles, implementing them spatially was beyond ChatGPT's current skills.

Final Specific Furniture and Decoration Choices

After extensive back and forth, specific furniture pieces within reasonable dimensions were selected, including a mid-century sectional, rectangular coffee table, glass side table, storage cabinet, and floating plant shelves. ChatGPT also suggested practical additions like sheer curtains for privacy and decorative throw pillows to boost comfort.

Evaluating How Well ChatGPT Designed the Tiny Rental Living Room

Considering ChatGPT's limitations, the AI chatbot performed admirably well on some interior design aspects but continued to fall short on spatial reasoning and layouts.

The project demonstrated possibilities for AI in creative disciplines but persisting challenges to overcome.

Surprisingly Good Furniture Style Recommendations

Especially early on, ChatGPT showed a consistent ability to suggest furniture and decoration styles fitting the desired aesthetic and rental living constraints quite well. Choices aligned nicely with current interior design trends and practices for small, multi-use spaces.

Lack of Spatial Reasoning Created Difficulties

No matter how much the physical space was described, ChatGPT could not visualize and reason about spatial relationships and dimensions properly. This led to many unusable furniture suggestions and arrangement ideas. While great for writing, ChatGPT lacks the perceptual abilities needed for spatially grounded design.

Refreshing Furniture Layout Ideas

Ironically, some of ChatGPT's furniture placement suggestions that didn't fit the actual space could spur new creative thinking for alternate layouts that do work. The unconstrained, out-of-the-box suggestions may have merit to inspire human designers' creativity in future iterations.

Concluding Thoughts on AI's Interior Design Capabilities

Attempting interior design purely through natural language conversations revealed current limitations in AI's spatial reasoning. But ChatGPT also showed the seeds of creative potential.

With rapidly advancing AI, the deficiencies exposed today may quickly transform into new innovative design possibilities tomorrow as the technology improves.


Q: What is ChatGPT and what can it do?
A: ChatGPT is an advanced AI chatbot created by Anthropic that can generate human-like text for writing, analysis, coding, and more tasks.

Q: What were the design specifications given to ChatGPT?
A: The detailed living room dimensions, features like doors/windows, needs for seating guests, desires for plants and privacy, and rental constraints were provided.

Q: Where did ChatGPT struggle with designing the living room?
A: ChatGPT struggled with spatial reasoning and understanding the room's layout, repeatedly suggesting poor furniture placements.

Q: What were some positives of ChatGPT's living room design?
A: The AI had good mid-century modern style recommendations and some refreshing layout ideas a human may not think of.

Q: Would ChatGPT succeed as an interior designer based on this test?
A: While shows promise for narrow styling abilities, ChatGPT currently lacks spatial skills to properly envision and design full rooms.