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WRITER: JOANNA LE PLUART
"With Space10, IKEA is extending the same freedom to a global network of contributors, enabling them to explore food security, the pace of urbanisation, health and wellness, and other macro-trends in a fearless way."
Nestled in the heart of Copenhagen’s meatpacking district, among the hipster hangouts and design start-ups lies Space10 - a research hub and exhibition space operated by Rebel Agency to explore and design innovative and responsible business models for the future that enables a more meaningful and sustainable life for the many people. Inter IKEA Systems B.V. has made Space10 possible, which in a very short time, has resulted in a number of interesting projects.
Space10 invites people from the worlds of art, design, and technology on different research projects that result in a range of prototypes, exhibitions, events and workshops.
Do you fancy tasting a 3D-printed meatball? That was just one of several futuristic food solutions examined by the hub in a project called “Tomorrow’s Meatball”.
The innovation lab started out as a 1,000-square-metre lobster tank. Turning it into a world-class innovation lab was the first of many Space10 transformations, but by no means the last. Since its launch in November 2015, the lab has generated a number of exciting new ideas.
The next evolution for IKEA… and the world
“IKEA co-workers have always enjoyed the freedom to address big issues creatively in its own business practices. Together with a global network of contributors, Space10 works with the same spirit, enabling them to explore food security, the pace of urbanisation, health and wellness, and other macro-trends in a fearless way,” says Göran Nilsson, IKEA Concept Innovation Manager at Inter IKEA Systems B.V.
“We already do a lot to improve the lives of the many people, and with Space10 we hope to take this vision even further. It’s about exploring news ways to enable a better and more sustainable life for the many people,” he continues.
In less than a year, Space10 participants have already come up with a long list of fresh, thought-provoking ideas. Here are just a few examples…
Meatballs, fresh out of the printer?
Meatballs are as iconic as flat packs for IKEA. But while meat consumption is on the rise, raising animals for food has a big impact on global warming.
Recently nominated, for the ‘Innovation By Design’ award by Fast Company, “Tomorrow’s Meatball” explores some of the trends that are revolutionising food production, including lab-grown meat, algae harvesting, and — perhaps most astonishingly — 3D food printing. Alternative ingredients such as proteins from algae, beet leaves, or insects can be used to create customised nutrient mixes that are “printed” on demand to meet the consumers’ aesthetic, cultural, and nutritional preferences.
Urban farming and home-grown vegetables
Recent years have seen a strong trend towards growing food at home - in apartments, on rooftops and in community gardens. Now, new technologies are taking the idea of “urban farming” a step further. Artificial lights and computerised automation make it possible to give plants exactly what they need in terms of water, minerals and oxygen. Plants can grow four or five times faster than in a field, using 95 percent less water, producing less waste, and leaving a much smaller carbon footprint.
Space10 is currently trying out this technology in a prototype hydroponic farm in its own basement. The idea is that one day, such indoor farms might be able to supply restaurants with salad vegetables grown in the restaurant itself. Simon Caspersen of Space10 observes, “Our prototype was built using 80 percent products and materials from IKEA stores, which means this farm could one day also be recreated quite affordably in people’s homes.”
Recycling and upcycling
While renewable energy is an important part of the sustainability story, so are “renewable products”. The idea of extending the lifespan of discarded products by tapping into consumer creativity is at the heart of the “The Makery” at Space10.
Here, people can use their imagination and high-tech tools, such as laser cutters and 3D printers, to adapt, re-envision, recycle, and upcycle products and materials that would otherwise end up in landfills. In the future, people may find maker spaces in IKEA stores, where they can customise, co-create, and adapt products to their unique and evolving needs.
The office in motion
When designers and interaction artists collaborated on ways to increase body awareness and address the mental and physical challenges of our modern, digital world, the “In Motion Office” was born. With a pivoting desk, the workstation enables workers to change positions throughout the day, so that they can enjoy the sunlight, avoid screen glare, change perspective, and interact with different colleagues. Even better, the physical act of moving into different work positions promotes intellectual productivity and reduces the health issues associated with long periods of inactivity.
Energy harvesting furniture
Small changes make a big difference. For example, what if we could harvest the wasted heat from things such as your morning pot of coffee, or the casserole cooling on the kitchen counter. That’s the big idea behind Heat Harvest, a Space10 prototype that uses thermoelectric pads built into surfaces to capture heat that would otherwise be wasted, and convert it into electricity that can recharge your phone or keep your laptop humming along.
As the pace of urbanisation quickens and our cities widen and densify, how will we still breathe freely? It’s a question that students from the Copenhagen Institute of Interactive Design examined when they were tasked with creating everyday objects that support healthier lives in urban areas. The result was Vayü, a modular device which uses CO2 sensors to measure both indoor and outdoor air quality, Vayü automatically nudges windows open when the air inside the home is stale, and shuts them when outdoor pollution levels rise too high.