Using a combination of DALL.E/Midjourney and generative algorithms, the All Design Lab team has developed the Hìtëkw – a modern version of the classic tennis racket. Aside from the fact that this modern version isn’t just an aesthetic makeover… the redesigned racquet is lighter, stronger and infinitely better looking!
“From the beginning of the project we wanted to explore new possibilities. We wanted to create something exciting to tell a new story in this sport,” said the folks at All Design Lab. The recent rise of AI programs like DALL·E and Midjourney proved to be an interesting place to start. Instead of designing a user experience, searching Pinterest, and creating mood boards, the designers chose to simply ask AI text-to-image chatbots to reinvent tennis racquets in their own unique way. This fundamentally different approach took the designers in completely new directions, leading them to ideas and avenues otherwise unexplored.
Designers: All design lab
Interestingly, the images for All Design Lab had one thing in common – they were all quite 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 are required to sample. And with tennis racquets, the shape doesn’t change all that much to begin with.” The AI alerted them to a strong area of intervention – reshaping the racquet silhouette itself.
Suffice it to say that Hìtëkw isn’t quite like any racket you’ve ever seen. The top and bottom are fairly standard, although what connects them in the middle almost feels like an alien organic series of branches/webs. It’s an interesting departure from the Y-frame seen on most racquets, but what sets it apart is not only its unique aesthetic, but also its functionality.
“Rackets have become lighter and more durable through new materials and advanced manufacturing techniques,” say the designers. “Nevertheless, the potential is there to envision an even lighter and stronger racquet that takes advantage of new design techniques, particularly advanced CAD processes such as generative design tools.”
This generative approach resulted in a frame that was stronger but used less material and was therefore lighter. 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 switched to 3D iterations to create the generative branching-like structure you see here. The only caveat is that while most racquets are made using metal casting/molding techniques, the only way to truly make a Hìtëkw racquet is through 3D metal printing. However, the reward of this tedious process is an increase in performance due to the racquet’s stronger/lighter construction. “Possibly a racquet similar to the Hìtëkw could offer players a new level of performance in practice and in real physical tests.”
You can follow All Design Lab’s experiments with Hìtëkw on their Instagram page.