Inside Ikea-backed design lab SPACE10, ahead of India debut

The community-led platform will help artists, academicians and specialists across fields collaborate, and use design and technology to find solutions to everyday issues

Divya J Shekhar
Published: Nov 22, 2019 04:19:10 PM IST
Updated: Nov 26, 2019 10:37:30 AM IST

Images: Sheena Dabholkar, Deepshikha Jain, Athul Prasad

SPACE10, an independent research and design lab backed by global home furnishing company Ikea, is launching in Delhi on Friday. Headquartered in Copenhagen, the lab has had popped up in New York, London, Nairobi, Shanghai and Singapore, but this is the first time they have set up office in another country.

“We want to be where the future is. India has a young, educated and tech-savvy population, and is one of the most diverse countries on the planet, with the fastest-growing economy,” says Kaave Pour, managing director, SPACE10. “We consider India extremely inspiring and as the ideal place to learn and explore new sustainable and scalable solutions that can help combat real problems for real people.”

In the next six months, the lab will host public programmes ranging from community talks and exhibitions to workshops for local designers, technologists, artists, architects, academicians, activists and entrepreneurs. They will focus on the use of design and emerging technologies to solve social issues. For example, the opening event on Saturday will involve an open discussion on how design can tackle air pollution, in the context of the worsening air quality in India’s capital. Partners include St+art, a street art organisation working to democratise public art, alternative music platform Boxout.fm, and the multidisciplinary UnBox Festival that will work toward addressing the challenges of designing for India’s diversity.

“Ikea has always been curious and SPACE10’s entry into India gives us a fantastic opportunity to explore new possibilities, broaden our horizon and engage with people in new ways,” says Peter Betzel, CEO, Ikea India.

Globally, SPACE10 has been working on developing design solutions for the future of food, architecture, city design and clean energy, among other things. They have also worked on Ikea’s Place project, an augmented reality app that allows people to place true-to-scale furniture in their own spaces. In Delhi, SPACE10 intends to run for six months till April 15, 2020. Simon Caspersen, communications director, says that this is because the lab never runs permanent projects. “We start with six months as SPACE10 has never been designed to last, but to constantly evolve. Six months is a good period of time to engage with the local community, discover new collaborations and partners, and initiate new projects and then evaluate if SPACE10 Delhi should be extended and in what shape.”

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