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Will generative AI ever replace human creativity?

Art on oil canvas
Image by Keren Setton (kerensetton) for WGSN
Jan 15, 2024 By WGSN Insider
Updates from WGSN

Back in 2015, WGSN predicted that AI would be the next big tech leap. Today, we are at the cusp of AI becoming a major digital tool for all industries for consumers and businesses, from healthcare to fashion, urban planning, industrial design, agriculture and art.

Staying true to our forecasts, this year marks a significant milestone as we integrate the power of AI into our creative direction for the first time. This strategic direction underpins our newly released annual report, Top Trends for 2024 and Beyond (available to download here). Utilising a blend of visual forecasting expertise, generative AI and human creativity, the report showcases the potential synergy between these two worlds.

We caught up with Lisa White, WGSN’s Creative Director, to delve into how these two worlds come together to illustrate WGSN's flagship forecast.

WGSN Top Trends for 2024 and Beyond
WGSN Top Trends for 2024 and Beyond

Q: Why did you decide to use both digital and physical tools for this campaign?

“WGSN’s top trends for 2024 are expressed by blending the digital and physical: AI and the human hand, directed by human minds. AI is a tool used by humans in order to invent new systems, optimise outdated ones and solve critical problems. It is also a tool for expanding human creativity, taking ideas from promise to prototype in record time.

“However, in the future, digital and craft will not be an either/or, but an and/and proposition. They are both important tools for creativity. We will increasingly see collaborations between humans and AI in all industries. This is not without concern and at WGSN, we are proceeding carefully and transparently by creating certain future-focused images according to our extensive and evolving internal charter, developed with our image and legal teams.

AI will not extinguish the physical. It will be an additional tool to enhance it. Humans will continue to use their first tools, their minds and their hands, to create in the future. 

“The digital and physical worlds will be more connected than ever and our 2024 top trends are expressed as a visual conversation between our human minds, AI and handcraft.”

AI-generated image by WGSN for 2024 Top Consumer Behaviour Trend: AI Assistants
AI-generated image by WGSN, illustrating 2024 Top Consumer Behaviour Trend: AI Assistants

Q: How were the AI-generated images created?

“We started with our WGSN experts, who identified where consumer and product design trends will be focused in the year ahead. After selecting 12 trends, plus our Colour of the Year, Apricot Crush, we established prompts for each, according to the principles of our internal charter, and worked with standard AI tools to see how they could bring our description of a future trend to life.”

Q: Was the process like you expected it to be?

“The creation of the AI images took much longer than expected! While AI can produce multiple versions of a potential concept, getting that concept to fit a clear vision takes multiple peer reviews to make sure that the idea comes to life and that diversity and inclusion, intellectual property rights and creative and cultural rights are all respected. The AI images were further honed by our teams using common software tools so that the images would express the trends as precisely as possible.”

Embroidery and painting mixture of WGSN's Top Trend for 2024
[Artwork incorporating painting and embroidery on oil canvas by @kerensetton for WGSN]

Q: How did you bring the AI-generated images to life?

“Once we were satisfied with the digital designs, we worked with an artist, Keren Setton (@kerensetton on Instagram), to bring them to life. She spent weeks painting and embroidering the designs on textile to bring them depth and texture and to highlight important areas. The result is a combined digital and physical render of what WGSN forecasts will be 12 key directions for 2024 in a visual conversation between our experts, AI and craft.”

WGSN’s Top Trends for 2024 & Beyond report can be downloaded at no cost here.

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