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IKEA Designers Make Life on Mars Feel Like Home—and Vice Versa

Photo: Courtesy of IKEA

Life on Mars seems simply out of this world. Leave it to Swedish furniture company IKEA look to what the future holds and use the conditions of interplanetary life to address problems on Earth while keep an eye to the inevitable colonization of the Red Planet.

Also: Elon Musk Reveals Plans to Colonize Mars

IKEA, known for its cheap and chic designs, announced that it has sent a group of engineers to spend three days at the Mars Desert Ranch Station habitat in Utah, with the aim of learning how to create better design solutions for extreme environments.

“It’s a crazy, fun experience. We’re basically completely isolated for three days to get a taste of what astronauts go through for three years,” Michael Nikolic, IKEA Creative Leader, said in a statement. “It’s almost like that misery you feel when you’re out camping. But of course, it’s great to be able to sit down and really spend time with amazingly creative people. That in itself is a luxury.”

The Mars Desert Research Station is a confined spacecraft-like environment that simulates the experience of outer space and is regularly used by astronauts to train for space flight. The IKEA team will use the station to explore the extreme conditions on life on Mars and use that knowledge to address issues currently affecting life on Earth: impersonal design, overcrowding, and compact living in urban environments.

The United Nations predicts that by 2050, more than 70% of the Earth’s population will be living in cities. Faced with the twin issues of overpopulation and climate change, engineers are recognizing that something has got to give and they are trying to address these issues before they arise.

Wired UK recently reported that IKEA also hopes to partner with NASA on the development of outer space habitats as plans to colonize Mars get underway. Marcus Engman, head of design at IKEA, told the site, that the company is looking to see how to make space travel “homey” and simultaneously “use space knowledge for a better everyday life on Earth.”

IKEA plans to showcase the knowledge gleaned from these studies in their 2019 collection of an estimated 30 items. “Some of it is of course electronics, but some of it is very far from being electronic. Life in music is going to be part of it. And actually even looking into garments,” Engman told Wired UK.

In an interview with Popular Science, Nikolic revealed, “I think that the essence of this collection will be about appreciating what we have on Earth: human beings, plants clean water and air. But also diversity and a sense of belonging—things that we take for granted on a daily basis. After this journey, it’ll probably feel pretty awesome to come home to my own bed.”


Miss Rosen is a journalist covering art, photography, culture, and books. Her byline has appeared in L’Uomo Vogue, Vogue Online, The Undefeated, Dazed Digital, Aperture Online, and Feature Shoot. Follow her on Twitter @Miss_Rosen.