Credit: IKEA

Elon Musk does not stand alone. Other massive retailers are putting their profits to good by researching what the future is going to look like and how to approach it. Ikea is contributing billions to find solutions for all aspects of future life.

Sweden’s Ikea made its name in low-cost flat-pack furniture - hardly a shining example of sustainability.

Now though, the global giant (which makes €35bn in revenue each year) is pushing a pioneering new green vision through its Copenhagen-based innovation lab Space10.

Perhaps controversially, the studio’s CEO Carla Cammilla Hjort describes the slick Silicon Valley vision of the future as “disconnected” — a tech-first world that often overlooks our base human needs.

“I’m a little worried we're all going to live in this Elon Musk-Tesla world,” she tells Forbes.

“If we design everything in glass and plastic, it will affect our emotional state of being.”

Instead, at Space10, the serial entrepreneur is exploring alternatives to the American dream - with Ikea backing projects around social co-living, sustainable food, human-first interfaces, and new-age making.

What gives you most pleasure, touching a piece of plastic or a piece of wood?" Hort asks.

Designing a better future

Hjort started Space10 in 2015, after Ikea CEO Torbjörn Lööf told her he wanted to design a better future.

Now her team (of over 20 permanent staff) realizes a wide-ranging smorgasbord of ideas, which are fully funded by Ikea.

Many projects have sustainability at their core, but also ensure that technology is for everyone - rather than a few big players turning us into “screen-addicted zombies”.

These have been showcased in popups in global cities like Shanghai, London, New York, and Barcelona.

“There's too much focus right now on the business potential of digital tools rather than how we could make the world better,” says Hort.

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