IKEA Space10 lab’s driverless cars deliver coffee, healthcare and AI gaming to your hands

IKEA Space10 lab’s driverless cars deliver coffee, healthcare and AI gaming to your hands

The near future is a beloved stomping ground of designers, a place for wild and crazy concepts that retain just a foothold in reality. The IKEA-funded future living lab, Space10, spends its time exploring this realm, examining how home, work and transport will evolve, throwing new ideas into the air and seeing which way up they’ll land. Briefed by the world’s largest furniture retailer to envisage scenarios for tomorrow, Space10 has come up with concepts that put digital fabrication, locally sourced food and shared living into the mix, imagining how they might play out in the real world through a combination of prototype design, research papers and living labs.

Spaces on Wheels tackles a critical issue: urban transport. More specifically, how self-driving cars might change our surroundings. Starting with the very reasonable premise that ‘the day fully autonomous vehicles hit our streets is the day cars are not cars anymore,’ Space10 and f°am Studio have created seven different rolling frameworks to represent the wealth of options promised by this new technology. These consist of Flexible Workspace (a roaming shared space that is effectively an office on wheels); Coffee on the Go (a boutique rolling roastery); Healthcare (drug dispensary); Farm (a mobile farmers’ market); Play (a pod for augmented reality experiences); Hotel (a sleep station) and of course a shop, the ultimate in instant pop-up, shown here in IKEA mode.

Shop, by Space10, Spaces on Wheels project

Shop, by Space10

These ‘Spaces’ are showcased in a new app, one which combines the interface and ease of use of Uber with augmented reality to give users a flavour of what such a paradigm shift in environment would be like. Dial up the app, developed with digital design studio Norgram and developers Shape, summon the Space on Wheels you require, give it a spot to park in the virtual realm and watch on your device as a fully rendered 3D model trundles down the road and installs itself before you. Space10 admit this is a conversation starter – ‘playful research’ – rather than a truly practical solution for the city of tomorrow. Instead, the app is a taster for the imagination – what if a coffee bar could double up as your cab ride to your next meeting? Could a doctor’s appointment take place on the way to work? Imagine buying gifts en route to a party, or having fresh produce delivered to your door straight from the fields, or even explore virtual worlds on your way home.

Most importantly, it brings another edge to mobility design, eschewing what Space10’s creative strategist Bas Van De Poel decribes as the ‘sleek, sterile, chrome painted machines straight out of science fiction’ that dominate popular thinking about future cars. ‘We generally need cities that prioritise pedestrians, bikes and public transportation much higher,’ he explains. These bubbly, friendly machines conjured up by the studio prioritise space over streamlining and combine fun with function, resembling miniature pieces of mobile post-modern architecture. Car culture will never be the same again. §

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