We went inside Ikea's futuristic lab where researchers design algae hot dogs, virtual-reality furniture, and self-driving cafes

  • Ikea has a lab in Copenhagen that dreams up, researches, and designs sustainable ways to live.
  • Some projects they are currently developing include algae hot dogs, virtual-reality furniture, self-driving cafés, and a future-food cookbook.
  • Space10 was founded in 2015 and it works with specialists, experts, and creatives from around the world to create these concepts.
  • We visited the lab to see what it's currently working on and what ideas it has for the future.

This is Ikea's future lab, Space10. It's a space in downtown Copenhagen where researchers are creating a sustainable future by changing the way we live, work, and eat.

The lab aims to highlight and answer some of the biggest questions about our future, and explores everything from tech innovations, to affordable housing. We saw its new SolarVille project, a 50:1 model village that produces self-sufficient and sustainable electricity. The model uses solar panels and blockchain technology to distribute solar energy around the village to those who need it, when they need it, and Space10 believes it could be a solution for the 1.1 billion people who have little or no electricity at all.

While these futuristic projects are often technical, the managing director Kaave Pour hopes that Space10s 'playful research' approach will make them fun and accessible to everyone: "For many people, research is seen as a little bit boring, [it's] facts and data, and nobody really seems to get super excited about it. We try to collaborate not just with data scientists and researchers and academics but with designers and creatives to translate [these ideas] into something that people give a damn about".

Space10 doesn't just work in tech, and its test kitchen is where the foods of the future are dreamt up. The recipes are designed to be future-proof, while some use everyday ingredients, often they'll include more experimental things like insects or algae. You may be unlikely to see these on the menu next time you visit Ikea, but the lab is is releasing a cookbook to inspire people at home to experiment more with these sustainable foods.
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