Design Research Lab Space10 Closes Shop

After nearly 10 years of operations as IKEA’s design research lab, Space10 is closing its doors.

Introduction – Space10

What is Space10?

Space10 was an independent design research lab founded by IKEA in 2015. The lab was located in Copenhagen, Denmark, and had a team of 23 people. Space10’s mission was to “create a better everyday life for people and the planet” through design research and innovation.

What is Space10? Source: YouTube


The design research lab contributed significantly to urban design and small-space living. Their projects won accolades for redefining how to use space and human interactions.

The following are some of the key projects the lab worked on during its tenure.

Urban Village: A project that explored how to create more sustainable and livable cities.

Bee Home: An open-source design for a beehive that can be built by anyone.

Spaces on Wheels: A project that explored the future of transportation.

Future Food Today: A cookbook that explores the future of food.

Lokal: A restaurant serving fresh food grown in the lab’s greenhouse.

What does co-living look like in 2030? Source: YouTube/Space10

The lab also published several reports on topics such as the future of cities, the future of food, and the future of work.

Beyond these designs, the lab was used to bring an “outside-in approach to innovation” to IKEA. DeAnn spoke on how the closure would affect customer experience design from outside in.

Customer Experience

IKEA used the design research lab to assess, explore, and think outside the box on the next wave of innovation ideas in the customer experience journey. This allows the furniture giant to evolve, imbed, and expand its design DNA for different demographics and manage the changing customer experience expectations. This includes how space is used over different time periods, how furniture pieces are maximized for different needs (e.g., leisure, work, or fun), and how IKEA can make life easier through automation (e.g., smart lighting, speakers, and drapes systems).

DeAnn’s Take On Space10’s Closure

Sad to see this. After ten years Ikea ended its collaboration with the design group Space10, effectively closing this company’s doors on August 31st. In 2014, IKEA was struggling to bring more creative thinking into its corporate DNA, but entrenched business and departmental structures kept getting in the way. The solution was the formation of Space10 as a privately owned design think tank with IKEA as its only client. 

Over the years Space10 has been responsible for some of Ikea’s most wildly successful innovations, including:

– IKEA’s Augmented Reality app for viewing furniture and kitchens in the home (see video below) // This allows customers to envision how furniture pieces and kitchen designs could look in any space which removes the “I can’t see it” barrier often experienced by shoppers.

IKEA’s Augmented Reality application Source: YouTube/IKEA

– Small format urban stores // This allows IKEA to move into spaces with smaller footprints like in Downtown Toronto, Canada.
– A more sustainable meatball // This focuses on food management of the future using IKEA’s famous meatball as its muse.

The world’s population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, putting a strain on global food resources. Tomorrow’s Meatball is a research project that explores the future of food consumption and food design. The project uses the meatball as a canvas to visualize alternative food sources that could meet the needs of a growing population. Source: Lukas Renlund

– The Ikea “hacks” and repurposing social media trend

Space10’s co-founder, Simon Caspersen, said in a recent interview that closing shop was part of planned obsolescence, stating “We’ve achieved what we set out to accomplish”. IKEA wanted Space10 as a way to kickstart their own internal innovation. But is internalizing really the right approach for today’s hyper-fast pace of change? It’s far too easy for a large company to fall back on old habits and familiar processes. Fresh eyes so often spot the great idea that in-house teams miss.

Access to creative thinkers who live outside a company’s past experiences, red tape, and in-house habits is one of the best ways to achieve great things in the shortest possible time. Ikea has stated that they feel they have learned enough from Space10 to now provide that innovation from within.

We shall see. Continuous innovation comes from the sum total of many minds working from many different vantage points. The fewer the vantage points, the longer and more difficult the road.


Final Words From The Lab

Final words from the lab:

The Final Words
We would like to sincerely thank each and every one of you who we’ve met on this incredible journey. It’s been such a privilege to be surrounded by so many inspiring people.

A special thank you to every person who has been part of our team over the years. We each have a part in the story and together we have shaped SPACE10. We hope that the spirit of SPACE10 will continue to flourish and that we each keep challenging the status quo to build a future we can believe in.

And a final, big thank you to IKEA for the support and trust. Thank you for being courageous enough to let us challenge you. When the radical idea of SPACE10 began in 2014, IKEA looked very different — and so did the world around us. A lot has changed since then, including IKEA. Today, innovation initiatives are flourishing across IKEA’s value chain and together we have achieved what we set out to do.

We hope that the spirit of SPACE10 will continue to live on and be reflected in the work and future direction of IKEA, and we look forward to seeing where it heads next.

We at SPACE10 feel immensely proud to have influenced one of the biggest design companies, making our ideas inspiring and accessible for others, and shaping conversations in everything from technology, design, architecture, and food.

Thank you so much. We couldn’t have done it without all of you!


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