IKEA lab Space10 creates pop-up hydroponic farm for growing extra-healthy salads
IKEA's innovation lab Space10 presented a pop-up farm during this year's London Design Festival, growing tiny greens that were used to prepare 2,000 nutritional salads.
Space10 worked with interior design studio Spacon & X to create the space. It showcased Lokal, a project that aims to provide a space-saving and sustainable way for people to grow their own food.
The farm was on show at Protein Studios in Shoreditch, east London, throughout this year's London Design Festival. It comprised a wooden structure of approximately two square metres, accommodating three levels of trays filled with crops.
These crops were grown hydroponically, meaning they were set into water filled with nutrients, rather than soil, with artificial lights overhead.
A salad bar was set up in front of the farm, so that the food could be served up straight away. Space10's chef-in-residence Simon Perez produced a total of 2,000 salads during the six-day-long London Design Festival.
IKEA launched the Space10 innovation lab in late 2015, to test product prototypes and find ways of boosting consumers' wellbeing. The lab has since worked on several projects involving food, including a look into the future of the meatball.
More recently, the lab created a dome for growing microalgae, as part of an exploration into unusual food sources.
Lokal forms a continuation of this project, looking at microgreens – tiny sprout-like crops with a short shelf life.
Microgreens are typically harvested within 14 days of germination and used as "vegetable confetti" to garnish food. But Space10 found that the root, seed and shoot of these tiny plants are packed full of nutrition, enough for them to become a major source of food.
But to be effective, they have to be served up very shortly after being harvested.
"Microgreens have quite a short shelf life, while our whole food production system is geared towards growing at scale and for it to actually withstand the travel," Space10's Simon Caspersen told Dezeen.
"But here, because we share it while we grow, we can actually share microgreens," he said.
"The beautiful part about microgreens is that the sprout actually contains the same amount of nutrients as the full-grown thing, so that means you get full value of the produce."
Space 10 is introducing smart technology to their concept to make growing the plants easy, so the farm and salad bar concept could easily be rolled out to consumers.
The plants are hooked up to Google's voice-controlled Home device, so that farmers can talk to the plants and find out about nutrition levels.
"The systems were quite technical and our problem was that we needed a technician to operate them," said Caspersen. "
"We thought, if we want to scale this, if we want to make systems like this available to more people, how can we make it much more intuitive to actually operate? So we are starting to explore whether we actually just talk to the farm."
A conversation is started by the command: "Hey Google, let me talk to sprout". Sprout then responds: "Hey there, welcome to our hydroponic farm. I'm Sprout, the voice of all the plants growing around you. How are you doing today?"
This year's London Design Festival ran from 16 to 24 September 2017. Other forward-thinking projects on show included a series of futuristic cars and a collection of furniture made from mushroom mycelium.
Photography is by Rory Gardiner, unless stated otherwise.