IKEA is going to Mars?

While IKEA is commonly known as the Swedish King of flat packs and the ‘build your own furniture’ company, the design team are now taking on an entirely new venture.. or should we say an entirely new planet!

Recently the IKEA design team traveled to and lived inside the Mars Desert Research Center in Utah for three days. The visit was intended for their space-inspired furniture collection scheduled to launch in 2019 as well the possibility of IKEA actually making it to Mars one day!

The center is operated by the NASA Mars Society and simulates a Mars environment for humans taking part in experiments and training. Astronauts spend long periods of time inside this research center to prepare themselves for space flights and ultimately the future endeavors of one day exploring the actual planet Mars.

The IKEA designers were able to learn about how space affects an entire design process by gaining a firsthand insight of how the designing of furniture is affected by the demanding space environmental forces.

As air is very limited in space and must be reused for many months or even years, this then reflects on the living materials as it must be designed with this in mind.

The creative leader of IKEA referred to the experience as “crazy and fun”. The team were completely isolated for three days and got first hand insights into what astronauts go through for three years. The research center consists of a tight two story space which is only eight meters in diameter.

IKEA designers also learnt about the huge costs involved in space transportation, as it can cost about $2 million to transport just one kilo of mass to the surface of Mars.

While this currently makes it impractical for IKEA to send materials to Mars, it generated an entirely new design process perspective. Storage and furniture would need to be created in an entirely new and innovative way which is completely shifting from traditional methods.

Marcus Engman, Ikea’s Head of Design, said putting the designers in this demanding environment forced them to think much more creatively and ultimately producing completely innovative solutions. These solutions have the potential to work better than anything else ever seen on Earth.

IKEA designers will continue working with people from NASA and students from Sweden’s Lund University and are excited about the future of IKEA’s space-inspired collection.

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