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Ikea’s AI assistant gives design inspiration — at least it tries to

Ikea’s AI assistant gives design inspiration — at least it tries to

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Ikea’s GPT makes the stress of going to Ikea a little less exhausting, but not by much.

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ikea gpt ai assistant screenshot
Screenshot of the Ikea AI Assistant
Ikea

Trips to Ikea can easily be an overwhelming exercise if you go in without a plan. Ikea’s AI assistant on the GPT Store was created to help — it will tell you all about its products and visualize them in a room.

Francesco Marzoni, chief data and analytics officer at Ingka Group, the largest Ikea franchise holder, said in a press release the AI assistant is part of a series of experiments the company is doing “so that we can take part in the AI evolution as we shape our company strategy.” 

I figured an Ikea AI Assistant should be a good way to make the experience less exhausting; this is part of Ikea’s pitch to potential users. So I decided to give it a try. However, I found that the Ikea GPT was not a good partner in interior design. 

The website is better

I started with the prompt, “I need storage ideas for my small living room / bedroom.” However, instead of showing me some ideas, the Ikea GPT told me to check an article on the Ikea US website and added a photo of a living room for good measure. I’m unsure if the picture for this prompt was AI generated, but it looks straight out of an Ikea catalog. I tried again and asked for information on bathroom storage, and it once again directed me to the website.

Finally, when I told it to give me a list of trash cans, the AI assistant finally decided to give me a rundown of products and only linked to the specific product pages instead of a blog post. 

Then I asked what the Kallax shelf would look like in my home (for the record, I already own a Kallax that I’m in the process of DIY-ing). It generated an image, presumably using the integrated DALL-E 3 image generator on GPT-4. The GPT did inform me this time that it was generating an image. I prompted the same question but added more specific information: “How about a black Kallax in a midcentury modern style studio apartment.” Both photos it generated came with a caption highlighting the item’s versatility with different styles and needs.

Ikea GPT screenshot
Screenshot of the Ikea AI assistant

Next, I asked the Ikea GPT if one nightstand model was available in the Brooklyn store. It got stuck in spinning wheel mode for about 10 minutes before I ended that conversation. Meanwhile, I went to the Ikea website and quickly found the information I needed. I prompted the GPT again, and it finally gave me an answer that the nightstand was unavailable for pickup at the location. The website told me a different story, but if you’ve ever dealt with Ikea’s ever-changing stock information, this kind of miscommunication is annoyingly familiar. 

Browsing is easier

In the end, I found that it was easier just browsing the Ikea website for ideas; the company gives customers plenty of design inspiration on the site. Besides, Ikea’s GPT kept instructing me to click on links to the site anyway, which defeated the purpose of having an AI assistant at my fingertips.

I do see one potential issue the Ikea GPT can solve. Ikea stores get overwhelming very quickly. If you have ChatGPT Plus on your phone, I can imagine asking the GPT questions about each item you come across at the Ikea Marketplace, eliminating the need to find human staff that always tend to be busy helping other customers.

Ikea is no stranger to technology. The home retail giant has been offering a ton of smart home products in recent years. It also debuted a virtual home design feature on its app called Ikea Kreativ in 2022. And although I am on the record saying that I personally cannot find a good use for many GPTs, I wanted to be proven wrong. But the Ikea GPT isn’t it. I’m going to stick to the catalogs, thanks. 

The Ikea AI Assistant is currently available to ChatGPT Plus users in the United States, but Ingka Group plans to expand access to more geographies soon. The Verge has reached out to the Ingka Group for more information on the GPT.