IKEA looks to confines of space travel for micro-living furniture collection

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IKEA looks to space travel for new micro-living furniture collection

IKEA is set to produce a collection of space-saving furniture that draws on the logistics of space travel to find innovative solutions for shrinking living spaces.

The new collection was announced today at the furniture company's annual Democratic Design Day, which is taking place in Älmhult, Sweden. While it hasn't been revealed what products will be included in the collection, IKEA says it will launch in 2019.

IKEA's Democratic Design Day aims to make the company's plans more transparent by sharing some of its behind-the-scenes research and processes. It takes place each year in Älmhult, the home of the first IKEA store.

Working alongside NASA and Lund University School of Industrial Design, the space collection will "tap into what scientists and engineers learn from spaceflight" – particularly the way they deal with restricted living areas.

As part of the project, IKEA also revealed that it is working alongside NASA to figure out how interior spaces might be designed for life on Mars, and how they could make the planet feel like home to those who would live there.

"This collaboration is not about IKEA going to Mars, but we are curious about life in space, the challenges and needs, and what we can make out of that experience for the many people," Michael Nikolic, creative leader at IKEA Range and Supply.

"When you design for life in a spacecraft or planetary surface habitat on Mars, you need to be creative yet precise, find ways to repurpose things and think carefully about sustainability aspects," he added. "With urbanisation and environmental challenges on earth, we need to do the same."

The company attributes the idea for this new collection to a change in our living conditions, citing shrinking homes and a 70 per cent increase in city living as the main drivers.

"Urban challenges such as small living spaces will lead to changes in the home," said IKEA. "Already today downsizing and micro-living is a reality in big cities."

"In spaceflights, small space living has always been a reality. IKEA will, therefore, tap into what scientists and engineers learn from spaceflight to Mars, and apply these discoveries to products and methods for everyday life at home, here on earth."

The Swedish furniture giant joins a number of designers who are already responding to smaller, more flexible spaces with furniture that makes the most of every inch of the floors, walls and even the ceiling.

Recent solutions include a hanging storage system by Jordi Iranzo, a space-efficient "living cube" by Till Könneker and a shelving system that comprises three interchangeable desktops by Matej Chabera.

Last year, IKEA announced its collaborations with Hay and Tom Dixon during its Democratic Design Day event.