Scientists and astronauts-to-be alike use the MDRS (Mars Desert Research Station) habitat in the middle of the Utah desert to study what it’s like to live in solitude in a space-like environment. But now IKEA, the popular DIY furniture company, will be sending its own furniture designers there.
They will be joining a collaboration between NASA and Lund University students to learn more about the struggles of saving space (in space) in order to find ways around several boundaries.
Image Credit: IKEA
It might seem like an incredibly odd mix: furniture designers going to a Mars learning facility. You might be thinking: FOR WHAT!? Well, it turns out there might actually be a host of underlying benefits to furniture engineering inspiration to be had from this unique, and somewhat questionably relevant, experience.
Since astronauts are forced to live in cramped quarters on the International Space Station and will also be forced to do so in any possible future trips to another planet that we might have in store, IKEA hopes that sending its furniture designers to the MDRS habitat will inspire innovative new space-saving furniture designs that can help in cramped urban environments right here on Earth.
As anyone from New York City and other densely-populated areas alike will tell you, having a ton of people living in one area yields smaller living quarters for everyone, but IKEA thinks it can help with space-savings in these small-space living situations by offering furniture that better-fits these kinds of cramped 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. 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,” IKEA Creative Leader, Michael Nikolic said in a statement.
IKEA hopes that perhaps they'll be able to innovate something for when astronauts finally make the trek to Mars. There are, of course, still some other potentially game-changing benefits to possible innovations sparked by living in an astronaut-like environment at the MDRS habitat. After all, every rocket that launches needs to conserve space, and IKEA is great at making space-conserving DIY flat-pack furniture.
It should be interesting to see if this collaboration yields any creative new designs that could change the way humans live in cramped environments; perhaps it might even spark new innovations for habitation in space and on Mars. If it doesn’t, at least the IKEA employees will have a chance to live like an astronaut for three days.