By Tojin T. Eapen
The butterfly is a particularly inspiring organism for biomimetics due to its beautiful and intricate wings, which are covered in scales that reflect light and create vibrant colors. We utilized AI tools to generate concept bags we called "Flutterbags," which are inspired by the appearance and characteristics of the butterfly. The goal of this project was to explore how AI technology can be effectively used in the product ideation process.
Inspired by the Butterfly
Among the butterflies, the Morpho butterflies are well-known for inspiring several innovative concepts. These butterflies which are found in Central and South America, are known for their vibrant blue coloration and iridescent wings. The blue color of the wings is produced by structural coloration rather than pigmentation and is created by the way that light is reflected and refracted off of the scales on the wings.
Blue Morpho butterfly (Image Source: Didier Descouens)
One example of a product inspired by the butterfly is a solar cell that utilizes the same structural coloration found in black butterfly wings. By replicating the way that the scales on butterfly wings reflect and refract light, the solar cell is able to increase its efficiency by capturing more sunlight. Another example is the development of materials with self-cleaning and anti-fouling properties inspired by the way that the surface of a butterfly wing repels water and dirt. These materials can be used in a variety of applications, including coatings for buildings and vehicles to help them stay clean and reduce maintenance.
Our goal is somewhat more modest compared to the examples of biomimetic concepts inspired by butterflies mentioned above. We are interested in using artificial intelligence (AI) to generate novel design concepts for bags that draw inspiration from the appearance and characteristics of butterflies. Specifically, we want to explore whether AI can generate functional design concepts beyond just creating visually appealing appearances. In other words, we want to see if AI can come up with ideas for bags that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also practical and useful.
Flutterbag Product Concept Generation
To begin, we utilized chatGPT to generate descriptions of a generic Flutterbag product. This description was then used to create a prompt for the text-to-image converter, which created visual representations of the Flutterbags based on the provided descriptions.
The prompt we provided for the creation of the Flutterbag was as follows: "Create an image of a bright, colorful butterfly inspired bag made of lightweight nylon or polyester material. The main body of the bag should feature an abstract butterfly print in shades of blue, purple, and pink. The bag should have a spacious interior with multiple pockets for organization, and the straps should be thin and adjustable with small, glittering butterfly charms. The bag could be designed as a shoulder bag, tote, or backpack, and could also feature a removable butterfly-shaped keychain attached to the exterior." This prompt was used to generate the below designs for butterfly-inspired bags using Midjourney.