Input : Output

Curating creative intelligence

A formative dialogue

At Snøhetta, we view design not just as an output but as a way of thinking embedded in the ongoing social narrative. Design is a dialogue between past, present, and future concepts and technologies that shape our world. Integrating AI as a creative partner in this dialogue has become essential to our methodology.

Recent research highlights AI's ability to handle a significant range of tasks, underscoring the ongoing importance of human expertise. In the creative industry, we anticipate substantial changes. Our perspective is to view these changes as opportunities. This prompts critical questions: How can we maintain humanity and contextual sensitivity in collaboration with AI? How can generative models be leveraged to produce solutions that are not merely likely (as AI often generates) but rather profound, surprising, and inherently meaningful?

For this, we believe both technology and human creativity – and not least the synergy between them, are essential. 

Catalysts not substitutes

At Snøhetta, we champion curiosity over expertise and embrace emerging technologies as catalysts for creating meaningful connections between brands, environments, and people. Generative models and large language models (LLMs) are integral to our process, not as substitutes for human creativity, but as catalysts for evolving design methodologies. We actively explore design ideation through creative code, and use generative algorithms and technology to create contextually significant designs based on relevant parameters and data. This introduces a dynamic approach to creation and storytelling, enabling flexible, dynamic realizations across spatial, digital, and physical mediums.

Photo: Kim Andre Fosslien Ottesen

AI as co-creator

The historical trajectory of generative models spans from architecture to intricate mechanical engineering, evolving from an abstract concept to a transformative revolution in design thinking and implementation. We experience how diverse disciplines employ similar algorithmic approaches, crafting innovative, relevant, and realizable designs across varying scales and materiality.

In some of our latest projects, we've explored AI's role as a co-creator in digital design. Recent examples are the launch of the Bokhus bookshelf during Milan Design Week and the identity for Collective Oslo. Rather than confining AI to generating images or text, we’ve embraced unexpected outputs in these projects, leveraging AI in our storytelling process.

Our bespoke soundscape generator on our own website. The generator creates a new way of experiencing Snøhetta's projects, playing an infinite mix of ambient music mixed with recordings from the site. The soundscape generator picks up the five most dominant colours in an image, as well as one random. The chosen colours is then translated to a random note, octave and note duration through the HSB values of the colour (hue, saturation and brightness). 

Generative experiments

Tailoring code to conceptualize fresh visual identities, is something we did for corporate law firm Grette, and The Norwegian Soloists' Choir, already back in 2017-18. At that time, exploring an algorithmic approach to creating brand identity was quite uncharted territory. However, we found it rewarding back then. And these identities are still very much alive, evolving – and responsive to their current context.

On our new website, we have explored the fusion of creative technology and sensory aspects through several experiments. One example is our bespoke soundscape generator. This generative tool (custom code) picks the most prominent colors from images in a project presentation, and generates a bespoke soundscape based on the imagery combined with recordings from the sites, to establish a more intimate connection with some of Snøhetta's most pivotal projects.

For Seabird Technologies we infused the storytelling with interactive visual and motion design elements, to elevate the digital narrative, creating an experience akin to physical material sensation. The Peder Lund identity automatically responds and adapts to different formats and channels effortlessly. While in our collaboration with Recreate we created a dynamic visual identity – generated from relevant input aligned with the company’s purpose and strategic ambition.

Artificial creativity?

The evolving relationship between human creativity and machine-generated potential is shaping the trajectory of design. Nurturing a flexible and curious mindset ensures our creative practice evolves in tandem with generative and creative technologies. 

However, while generative models and AI serves as a valuable co-pilot in idea generation and creation, we acknowledge the indispensable role of human thinking and creativity. As designers, we must imbue concepts and ideas with humanity, contextual sensitivity – sometimes even irrationality – to ensure they hold genuine value.

We stand as custodians of quality, depth, and originality in these dialogues, crafting solutions that transcend mere replication, and possess inherent significance.