Unfold Your New Couch

Flat-pack innovator IKEA, working in collaboration with Panter&Tourron, have reimagined the couch in a lightweight and sustainable form. Most of our sofas are large and bulky pieces, and permanently located in the living room. But that could change.

Designed using AI the concept is called Couch in an Envelope. The modular concept weighs a tad more than 20 pounds, is recyclable, folds flat and requires no tools. By folding in various arrangements the couch can be raised or lowered and seat two or three people.

The couch is synonymous with comfort. The center of our living rooms, it is where we unwind, chat with friends, read, nap, and relax. Yet, the established design archetype of the couch — heavy, bulky, difficult to transport — feels increasingly outdated in an age of flexible living and ever-changing lifestyles.

We began by inputting prompts, like ‘a couch made for nomadic living’, into generative AI platforms Runway and Midjourney. At first, it was impossible to escape the typical shape of the couch whenever the prompt ‘couch’ was used — showing that human and design biases are deeply embedded in large language models and algorithms. ‘This could negatively impact the future of design,’ says Alexis Tourron, designer and co-founder of Panter&Tourron. ‘Presently, AI can only take us so far in design innovation before craft — and the human — need to intervene.’

Couch in an Envelope is part of an exhibit called Design in the Age of AI at SPACE10 Gallery.

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