Copenhagen-based SPACE10, IKEA’s innovation lab, announces its closure after a decade. Dive into its lasting impact on design, community engagement, and what the future holds.
Ten years ago, a modest team of 23 people in Copenhagen embarked on an ambitious mission. They called themselves SPACE10, and they had a simple yet monumental goal: to reimagine the future in a way that was open, democratic, and purpose-driven. Funded entirely by IKEA, this unique lab would go on to not only reshape IKEA’s corporate ethos but also influence the wider world of design, science, and community engagement.
Through a collaborative platform that invited global participation, SPACE10 tackled some of the world’s most pressing issues—climate change and social justice, to name a few. These weren’t mere think tank discussions; they were active, participatory endeavors. Interactive events and idea-sharing forums allowed the lab to function as a real-time incubator for solutions and innovation.
It wasn’t just an experiment in corporate social responsibility; it was a full-on fusion of outside-the-box thinking into IKEA’s business strategy. New store formats in urban locales? That was inspired by SPACE10. A healthier, more sustainable food menu for IKEA customers? Another feather in SPACE10’s cap. The venture succeeded in nurturing a pervasive culture of innovation within IKEA, affecting the brand’s strategies and business opportunities in a palpable way.
In a statement about the lab’s achievements, Jon Abrahamsson Ring, CEO of Inter IKEA Group, emphasized how instrumental SPACE10 had been in “facilitating new partnerships and business ventures” and inspiring a cultural shift toward innovation within IKEA.
But perhaps the most remarkable aspect of SPACE10 was its community-centered approach. The lab created a remarkable network—some 250,000 people strong from over 100 countries. Students from prestigious institutions like Harvard and MIT participated in its residency programs. Last year, they even opened a public library featuring 100 selected design books, a collection that recently won a 2023 Innovation by Design Award from Fast Company.
SPACE10’s reach wasn’t confined to the corporate or academic world. Their research initiatives spanned countries and causes—from exploring healthy home environments to initiating local biomaterial projects in Mexico. It’s no wonder the platform has been hailed as one of the most innovative design companies globally, with exhibitions in esteemed venues like the Design Museum in London and the Smithsonian in Washington DC.
It may come as a surprise, then, that SPACE10 is closing down. According to Kaave Pour, co-founder and head of SPACE10, the lab was never meant to last forever. “We have achieved what we initially set out to accomplish,” he said, reflecting a sense of pride and fulfillment. A new website has been launched to make all of SPACE10’s work from 2015-2023 publicly accessible, ensuring that their mission lives on, even if the company itself does not.
Devastated that IKEA’s R&D lab @Space10 is closing down this week. We’ve cherished our bond, exchanging ideas with our many speakers & having Space10 as a sponsor for @TheFutureOf. 🙏 For the last 10 years. Here’s hoping someone carries on your legacy of purpose & innovation. pic.twitter.com/T5Ob2Jlm0J
— PropelaPresents (@Propela_) August 29, 2023
As the team prepares to shut down operations by September 1, 2023, there’s a collective acknowledgment that while SPACE10 as a company will cease to exist, its impact and mission are far from over. Its legacy will continue to shape conversations and inspire innovation for years to come, serving as a testament to what can be achieved when corporate innovation is fused with a genuine sense of purpose and community.
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