There's nothing better than a good gossip.

The view from the ground

We sat down with our Design Director, Nikki Burton, for a chat on AI, design, authorship, and everything in between.

Q: Let’s kick off with an easy one—in your opinion, how do you see generative AI elevating the design process?

A: Well, I think there’s a lot we can use it for. I’ve started using it early in the concept stage—when I’m putting together a mood board, I might put a prompt into DALL-E or Shutterstock [AI Image Generator] and take some of those images as a jumping-off point. I like it because you can then refine those ideas. I think more generally, as well, AI can be really helpful for taking admin-y bits off your plate. It frees you up to focus on more complex or creative tasks.

Q: There’s a lot of debate about AI-generated art at the moment. As a designer, are you concerned?

A: [Laughs] No more easy questions! For the record, I would never put anything out that I hadn’t created myself. It’s an interesting one because many designers now feel threatened that AI could take their jobs. Personally, I don’t have that because I don’t think you can ever replace imagination and emotion, which humans do so well—no matter how advanced the technology has become. Like I said earlier, I might use AI as a starting point very early in the process, but fundamentally, it can’t visualise ideas without some prompt, which is always controlled by a human. It’s a helpful tool, but it doesn’t exist without humans.

Q: Do you think that, as AI-generated content becomes more common, we’ll see a pushback from the design community? Or do you think designers will embrace it?

A: [Pauses] I think it’ll continue to split opinion. What will be interesting is how art-lovers respond. It’s like how you’ve got vinyl collectors who don’t use Spotify and some who still watch videotapes. Will people be nostalgic about human-created art in the same way? I would think so.

Q: So, you think we might see a greater premium being placed on human art?

A: I think so.

Q: How will people be able to differentiate between human art and AI-generated art?

A: It’s a good question. There’s a lot of talk at the moment about watermarks. Should AI-generated content be watermarked so you can tell it apart? I think that some sort of watermark or identifying symbol could be a good thing. To go back to my earlier point, you can tell when something has been created by a machine.

Q: That’s interesting—how?

A: [Pauses] You can just tell. [Laughs] Because human design is truly original. It has emotion, it has an essence. Don’t you think so?

Q: Yeah, definitely. The work we create is informed by our perspective, ultimately, and our experiences.

A: Yeah, exactly.

Q: Are there any brands or agencies that you’ve seen that are using AI particularly well?

A: The Creative Cloud programmes I use daily are using them well. For example, Photoshop’s Generative Fill speeds up some editing tasks, like cutting out or removing objects and backgrounds from images.

It doesn’t always behave, or give the exact result, but it can speed up the process most of the time. I am excited to see where these tools go. Augmented reality is transforming our customer experiences with brands, allowing us to design and place goods into our homes before making purchases. I’ve used the Ikea design app (IKEA Kreativ) more times than I can count, configuring my walk-in wardrobe to get exactly want I want where, as many times as I like! It’s the virtual try it-on and on and on experience! They have also released a chatbot designed to be a personal AI shopping assistant (sadly only available in the US).

Q: Last question for you, Nikki—what do you think AI means for the future of design?

A: [Pauses] I think it means that we’ll collaborate more and more. Whether that’s using it during the development stages or getting variations on the final product, I think we’ll learn to see AI as another part of the process. It has potential, so I’m excited to see what the future holds.


Here at The Fold, we aren’t outsourcing our work to machines. Like any other tool, we use the power of machine learning to enhance and supplement our decades of collective experience and skill—creating beautiful work that delivers.

If you want to see where we can take your business, or anything else–why not drop us a line at