How IKEA Is Doing Astronaut Training

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Space Nation Navigator

One of the astronaut experience missions in the Space Nation Iceland Adventure was to assemble an IKEA lamp. It may sound easy, but as the candidates noticed, it was very challenging. Watch the episode and you’ll see what I mean!

The idea behind this mission came actually from a quote by astronaut Michael López-Alegría, Spanish-American astronaut who did three Space Shuttle missions and one International Space Station mission.

He said that followership and knowing how to follow instructions are important astronaut skills and in his words:

“If you can follow instructions and know how to put together IKEA furniture, you could probably become an astronaut.”

While the episode focused on team work and communication skills, using IKEA product in an astronaut training mission was not as far from reality as you might think.

IKEA is already using space as a context for product development, and they are already creating products with space lifestyle in mind. How are they thinking space lifestyle? They are discovering new ideas for a better life in urban households around the world – all inspired by outer space living where tight spaces, air and water pollution is the norm. IKEA cares about finding sustainable solutions like plastic made of renewable bio-based materials,

IKEA Trained like Astronauts

IKEA did their own space camp with Mars Society to study how the habitat in Mars could look like. One of the focus points for IKEA was to gain insight what makes a home feel like home to people, even if it is on Mars. A journey to Mars takes three years and it can only be reached with the help of a lot of research, innovation and engineering. IKEA is working to using those learnings and bringing them back to earth and into our homes.

“Meeting a team who’d been isolated for 60 days really gave us some perspective. It’s not like you see the stars out there the way you do from Earth once you’ve left its atmosphere… It’s pretty much pitch black. And there you are, in that darkness for 18 months until you start approaching Mars,” Robert, Designer & Architect at IKEA explains.

Instead of Iceland – IKEA and Mars Society did their training experience in another “space on earth”-location, Utah. And instead of snow and wind – they experienced hot temperatures and encountered with rattle snakes and scorpions.

“We looked a lot at how the habitat worked both practically and emotionally on a day-to-day basis. It was very apparent that all the human values that we take for granted weren’t taken into consideration, like eating together, enjoying entertaining activities and, especially your personal privacy. Everything felt very sterile and quite primitive. So this is something that we’ll be looking at: how can we incorporate softness and humility through colours and materials,” IKEA’s Interior Designer Christina says.

“At IKEA we love doing the impossible, and what is more challenging than exploring space? Small space living is a fact in space and we want to learn from that as this is a reality to more and more people. We are curious to see what makes a space travel homey, what boundaries and restraints you need to work with and bring that knowledge into our product development. To use space knowledge for a better everyday life on earth”, says Marcus Engman, Design Manager at IKEA Range and Supply.

 

This experience did not end there. There is an entire product line coming inspired by space living.

Meanwhile – watch the latest Space Nation Iceland Adventure episode to see that building IKEA products in space will come with challenges and thankfully IKEA is already working on making their products space-ready!

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