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IKEA Designing Martian Living Spaces

Credit: Oskar Falck/Inter Ikea B.V.

Hopefully they don’t forget the allen wrench…

If there’s one thing that the prolific furniture maker IKEA is known for, it’s cramming a bunch of comfortable, attractive furniture into a really cramped space. So let’s cogitate for a moment: where in the universe is there not a particularly large surplus of space that human beings would want to live comfortably for an extended period of time? Answer: a martian habitat! A theoretical one, anyway.

The Mars Desert Research Station is a small facility in Utah designed to mimic an actual human habitat on Mars for research purposes. Researchers and volunteers would regularly simulate work and life activities in the MDRS to gather simulated data on what it would be like for astronauts on the red planet. One of the members of the crew was Christina Levenborn, a designer from IKEA.

After her time at the MDRS, Levenborn designed a collection of IKEA furniture reminiscent of the facility, but IKEA themselves took her ideas a step further. The furniture company has begun designing interior design layouts that could actually fit into a habitat like the MDRS. The designs tried to maintain that feeling of personal space, even in extremely cramped quarters, making extensive use of modular and wheeled furniture, as well as pleasant lighting to create a relaxing atmosphere.

IKEA doesn’t have any kind of tangible deal for this; there’s no guarantee that any real Martian habitats would reflect their designs. I do hope that their designs are considered, though. Just because the purpose of a facility is science and research doesn’t mean it has to be nothing but cold steel. You go down that road, and you end up with sci-fi horror movies.