What’s your course of action when Ikea, one of the world’s most influential furniture companies, tasks you with ideating solutions to the most pressing issues of our time? If you’re like Space10 co-founders Kaave Pour and Simon Caspersen, you hunker down in a small storefront on the Copenhagen docks. You speculate how lab-grown meat and insect protein can replace traditional meatballs and spark a media “shitshow.” You develop an AR app that previews how Ikea furniture might look in one’s home and get praised by Tim Cook on Good Morning America. You figure out how to slip a functional sofa into an envelope. And as of this week, you quit while you’re ahead and wait for the world to catch up.
Space10 announced its permanent closure yesterday. “[It] was never meant to last,” Pour says. “After a decade of working with Ikea, we’ve achieved what we set out to accomplish.” The agency was formed in 2014 following a collaboration between Ikea and Danish collective ArtRebels. But instead of pitching a follow-up, the group suggested that Ikea’s then-CEO Torbjörn Lööf could use his company’s robust platform to explore how to create a better future for the world at large. That didn’t just mean figuring out how to create furniture that lasts—it involved looking decades down the line, operating externally from Ikea’s brand, and exploring how the company could maintain its relevance as tastes and technologies shift. The idea was radical, but Lööf was open-minded. Space10’s physical lab soon opened and the enterprise started thinking based on values and vision, not finances.
What resulted was a slate of forward-thinking projects both diverse and expansive, which challenged the industry to improve life at home and ease its impact outside. Space10 was crucial in Ikea’s strategy to reformulate its giant big-box stores into smaller footprints for urbanizing cities—and showing, with two full-blown raves during Milan Design Week, how they can come alive at night. The Ideal City, a 2021 book about how collective actions can create a “better everyday life” in cities, became an exhibition at the Barbican before touring worldwide. In that respect, perhaps Space10 over-delivered on its objectives. “We were basically set up to not really interfere with current business,” Caspersen says. “Sometimes we’ve failed at that and influenced today’s business.” As in that initial meeting with Lööf, Space10 proved there’s power in simply asking the right questions.