Federico Casalegno: Unleashing Creativity with Computational Design
Hosted annually by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), The Future of Everything Festival brings together the most revolutionary minds to explore future ideas. Among the luminaries at this year’s two-day event, which was located at Spring Studios in TriBeCa – a vibrant New York City neighborhood, was Michelle Obama, Former First Lady of the United States; Naomi Watts, Actor and Entrepreneur; and Irene Khan, The United Nations Special Rapporteur of Freedom of Expression and Opinion. Our very own Federico Casalegno, Executive Vice President of Design at Samsung Electronics and Head of the Samsung Design Innovation Center (SDIC), also took the festival stage.
Interviewed by Phillipa Leighton-Jones, Senior Vice President at The Trust, part of WSJ | Barron’s Group, Federico delved into vital the role of design in the age of artificial intelligence (AI). Here are excerpts from their insightful discussion:
1. What do you think is the role of design when you’re creating new products that not only function well – thanks to the underlying technology – but are also focused on improving the human user experience?
We put real people – and the planet – at the heart of our development process, which enables us to create products and services that are tailored to our audience’s needs.
We believe design plays a distinct role in advancing knowledge and creating human benefit. It complements science and technological innovation.
Technology, including emerging tech like AI, is a part of our everyday life. In this context, it is extremely important to drive technological innovation for human benefit. That is why my teams in Samsung focuses on experience first. Our designers prioritize the social, cultural, and spatial context of technologies so they optimally meet specific human needs. Moreover, they’re constantly learning how to effectively leverage the potential of new tools and technologies to ensure the well-being of both people and planet. Encouraging a balanced approach that aligns with ethical and sustainable considerations can lead to both progress and responsible outcomes. It’s all about what technology should do, not what it can do.
As I always say, technology without humanity is perfection without purpose.
2. Given the extraordinary development of AI, can you explain how designers at Samsung are working to harness the benefits of AI through computational design?
Technological innovation is growing exponentially nowadays. With the diffusion of new AI capabilities, new relationships need to be established between people and products. As a result, designers need to master totally new powerful tools.
We apply sophisticated AI and machine learning (ML) technologies to empower designers to fully unleash their creativity. I view this as the next level of collaboration between designers and machines whereby designers are empowered by the latest tools, but they remain in the “driver’s seat” of the creative process.
Computational design creates digital twins of products or experiences to simulate, test real-world situations on digital prototypes, and apply the data back to evolve and improve the actual product or the experience we want to provide to end users. AI and “intelligent computing” can execute tasks that were otherwise inconceivable just a few years ago, allowing us to experiment and evaluate more variations at a quicker rate, which in turn leads to improved consumer experiences.
Implementing computational design requires an investment. We’re making that investment at Samsung with the formation of a new Computational Design Lab – located in San Francisco as part of SDIC. The lab aims to enhance traditional design processes and make them more intelligent by applying AI, ML, and computation for product and experience innovation. In this new endeavor, we’re seeking out talented designers and technologists to join our growing group and bring new energy and ideas to our process!
3. And if you’re aiming to design future products around human experiences, what does that look like on a practical level – in terms of the teams and the culture that you’re building?
Our multidisciplinary teams include talent from diverse backgrounds, from strategy and design to social sciences and engineering. Together, they can address twenty-first century challenges and design successfully in such a complex and intertwined world.
As for culturally, before you even talk about design, you must focus on the people that make up the team. I believe that the best teams include people that represent vastly different experiences and perspectives — and for that team to be truly great, the culture must make people feel comfortable representing those different experiences and perspectives. At Samsung, we cultivate an open culture that embraces inclusion, stimulates innovation, and empowers people to explore.