The key to great design often lies in the imagination process. After all, nearly every great product and innovation has come from asking a simple question like “what if?”. Now IKEA and its research and design lab SPACE10 are taking that idea further by creating a powerful virtual playground for experimentation.
Called Everyday Experiments, the new site is dedicated to exploring fun innovations in the world of interior design. As a result of recent events like the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, most people are finding themselves at home much more often than before, leaving many to contemplate different pieces and layouts for their spaces. Everyday Experiments allows you to further that exploration through various media formats.
“The future home should be about the people first. It’s a place for everyone to be safe, to feel comfortable and in control. Technology is quickly becoming a vital part of the IKEA customer experience and home furnishing offer. Being a values-driven brand, we focus on people and planet. As we enter a new digital era, we are also exploring new ways to create a better everyday life at home while protecting people’s privacy,” explains Fredrik Axén, Digital Manager of IKEA’s Core Business Franchise.
The experiments featured on the site revolve around different themes including design, perception, control, capture, and play. Some of the technologies incorporated into these projects include Spatial Intelligence, VR, occlusion, and GAN (edge computing). That all might sound very technical, but their purpose is actually to simplify tech-heavy designs for the average homeowner to use.
The website guides the user through a catalog of options. For example, you can establish how many elephants will fit into a space through Extreme Measures, a friendly and thoughtful program made to help you gauge dimensions and volume. Using another program called Fort Builder, users can import everyday items from their homes and stack them into a fort, all without concern for foundation or support. The application then allows the user to knock the items down again — a simple virtual pleasure that won’t result in breakage, danger, or mom’s anger.
Home Applications is another experiment that really lets the creative juices flow. Use it to teach your curtains to automatically open and close with the sun, or train a light bulb to measure pollutants in the air. Optical Sound System is an augmented reality experiment that allows the user to “see” sound waves as they travel through a space. And speaking of space, Spatial Instruments is a technical prototype that allows you to determine the sound a room would make if in fact a room could speak. This is accomplished by scanning and building your living room digitally. As the camera moves through it, the sounds change as they rebound off small or large items, changing again as you start to rearrange things.
SPACE10’s Creative Director Bas Van de Pol adds that “home — especially these days — plays an important role in how we develop our everyday interactions and relationships. It is not only the place where we live but the place where we work, teach our children, and where we connect with the world digitally. We believe that the more we learn about the next curve of design and technological innovations, the more we can help people to make tomorrow’s life at home, and with each other, even better.