No, you didn’t misread this article’s title: IKEA engineers recently took up residence at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah to—what else?—design their next line of compact-living furniture for cash-strapped Earthlings.
Because these meatball-loving engineers want to get a taste for what hanging out in a typical Mars capsule is really like. You know—cramped quarters, space toilets, impersonal design and the like.
“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,” noted IKEA Creative Leader Michael Nikolic in a statement.
Given the fact that a plan to colonize Mars is still in its infancy, it may all seem a little goofy and premature.
Or perhaps not…
Think about the Tiny House Movement that has taken off in recent years. More and more earth-loving, energy-conscious folks these days have ditched their monster home mortgages in favor of a simpler, albeit more compact, lifestyle—on or off the road.
As I note in my recently published debut book, Do It Anyway: Deep Spirituality Meets Real Life:
“I first discovered this trend on, yes, you guessed it, Facebook. Where else? Intriguing pictures of small, compact homes, usually built on a trailer, and offering the individual or couple a sense of freedom, independence, eco-sustainability and a mortgage-free lifestyle.
In many cases these little solar-powered homes, varying in size from 120 square feet to perhaps 220 square feet, could be constructed (labor and materials) for approximately $20,000, depending on one’s specifications…
When I think of the multitudes, singles or couples, who work 60-plus-hour weeks, just to pay for the palatial property that they never get to spend any time in, it just makes me wonder…what’s the point?
So, I’m all in favor of the downsizing/tiny house movement and commend those who can make it work. It’s an inspiring, environmentally-conscious witness to a more simplified lifestyle. One of treading lightly on the earth and its resources and, for those who can liberally embrace the concept, an attractive alternative to the huge overhead expenses associated with running even the average-sized American home.
Although not designed with families in mind, these simple homes may well inspire a corresponding downsizing in family home design and expense.”
So if IKEA engineers can pull off some neat new modular furniture designs from their virtual Mars travel, I’m all for it—whether it’s for your cramped Brooklyn apartment or your tiny-house trailer home.
Gimmicky PR perhaps, but a flat-pack mission to Mars is cool in my book. It’s a stirring reminder that as our planet gets more crowded—and less comfortable—the thought of downsizing and simplifying our lifestyle becomes all the more appealing.
In 2019, IKEA plans to release a collection of space-inspired items. As Nikolic remarks:
“I think that the essence of this collection will be about appreciating what we have on Earth: human beings, plants, clean water and air. But also diversity and a sense of belonging—things that we take for granted on a daily basis. After this journey, it’ll probably feel pretty awesome to come home to my own bed.”
Here’s to the IKEA Space Pioneers of the 21st century. Way to go fellas!
Author: Gerard Murphy
Editor: Travis May