Using a combination of DALL.E/Midjourney along with generative algorithms, the team at All Design Lab created the Hìtëkw – a modern take on the classic tennis racquet. Except this modern take isn’t just some aesthetic overhaul… the redesigned racquet is lighter yet stronger, and is infinitely better looking!
“From the start of the project, we wanted to explore new opportunities. We wanted to create something exciting to tell a new story within this sport”, mentioned the folks at All Design Lab. The recent rise of AI programs such as DALL·E and Midjourney proved to be an interesting starting point. Rather than plotting a user experience, browsing Pinterest, and building moodboards, the designers decided to simply ask AI text-to-image chatbots to reimagine tennis racquets in their own unique ways. This fundamentally different approach took the designers down a completely new path, introducing them to ideas and paths that would otherwise remain unexplored.
Designer: All Design Lab
A look at the tennis racquet inspiration images DALL.E and Midjourney helped generate.
Interestingly enough, for All Design Lab, the images had one commonality – they were all pretty identifiable as racquets. ” What we learned from this was that while these programs are extremely powerful, they are only as powerful as the source material they have to sample. And with tennis rackets, the form doesn’t really change all that much from its inception.” The AI made them realize a strong area of intervention – redesigning the racquet’s silhouette itself.
Suffice to say, Hìtëkw isn’t quite like any racquet you’ve ever seen. Its top and bottom are fairly standard, although what connects them at the middle feels almost like an alien-like organic series of branches/webs. It’s an interesting deviation from the Y-frame seen on most racquets, but what sets it apart isn’t just its unique aesthetic – it’s also its functionality.
“Rackets have become more lightweight and durable through new materials and advanced manufacturing techniques”, the designers mention. “Yet the potential is still there to envision an even lighter and stronger racket that takes advantage of new design techniques, specifically, advanced CAD processes such as generative design tools.”
This generative approach resulted in a frame that was stronger while requiring lesser material, making it lighter in the process. It took the team multiple iterations to arrive at a form that was equal parts aesthetic and functional. They used DALL.E as a starting point, but moved to 3D iterations to create the generative branch-like structure you see here. The only caveat is that while most racquets are made using metal casting/molding techniques, the only way to really make a Hìtëkw racquet is through metal 3D printing. The reward of this laborious process, however, is an increase in performance because of the racquet’s stronger/lighter design. “Potentially, in practice and real-life physical testing, a racket similar to Hìtëkw could introduce a new level of performance to players.”
You can follow All Design Lab’s experiments with Hìtëkw on their Instagram page.