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Stepping Out of the Home’s Four Walls with IKEA

IKEA, known for innovative home furnishings and interior design, stepped beyond the four walls of the home this summer at Sweden’s H22 City Expo 2022, the Nordic region’s largest sustainable urban development expo.

During the Expo, and in close collaboration with the city of Helsingborg, IKEA explored the future of city living with an urban farm, pop-up stores, nature-inspired temporary shelters, and other innovations.

“We created for H22 City Expo unique meeting places, and we are exploring the future of life at home, inside and outside the four walls,” said Belén Frau, global communication manager at Ingka Group, the biggest franchisee of IKEA and a sponsor of the expo.

With H22 City Expo, the iconic home furnishings company reimagined urban living and commerce in three development concepts that provided visitors a glimpse of a more sustainable, creative, and inspired future.

DM marketplace at H22

DM: a multipurpose marketplace

DM, which stands for Do More, is a multipurpose marketplace with pop-up stores, an employment and entrepreneurship hub, an urban farm, and a food court in Drottninghög, northeast of Helsingborg. Planners designed this experiment in urban living to continue after the expo as part of a multipurpose business model, itself called DM.

Community engagement is at the heart of the DM model, which seeks to drive revenue in four areas: DM Market (marketplace), DM Äta (food), DM Odla (urban farm), and DM Recruit (employment opportunities). “We hope that DM, together with our other meeting points, will be a positive force in the local community,” says Fredrik Håkansson Lundh, area manager for IKEA Retail Sweden.

The DM Odla (urban farm)

A major focus was to bring community members together while creating jobs. To that end, DM hosted music and dance performances, movement classes, school groups, and more. Long-term, IKEA hopes to have a positive impact on a local community, with the ongoing ripple effect of getting more people into the job market.

IKEA Festival at Magasin 405

Magasin 405, sited in a historic warehouse at the old harbor of Helsingborg, explored the future of life at home.

It featured a restaurant with fresh spins on old classics, such as fine dining at a plant-based hotdog stand, a food court featuring plant based, vegetarian, and sea foods in keeping with IKEA’s food strategy targets for 2025, and a Japandi shop combining Japanese and Scandinavian home furnishing accessories.

The ÖGONBLICK exhibition on the third floor envisioned life at home in different life stages. Installations featured everything from a single-room household to multi-generational, shared rooms, providing inspiration for designs and furnishings to come.

In a related installation, the First Home exhibition on the second floor explored sustainable and space-efficient urban living, asking such questions as, what do we need to own vs. what can we share with others?

A performance venue, and spectacular harbor views also helped bring new life to an old building while inviting visitors to look to the future.

Art installation inside Magasin 405

Marcus Engman, chief creative officer at Ingka Group, says IKEA Festival was all about bringing people together around things that inspire them, especially music, food, and design. “That’s what was on our mind when filling this old, 4,500-square-meter warehouse with food, creativity, and inspiration.”

Skogen: mobile forest and sustainable shelters

Just outside Magasin 405, a modular, mobile forest dubbed Skogen showcased the designs of four universities and three young creatives for future outdoor living in the form of temporary dwellings inspired by nature.

Together with Spacon & X and Helsingborg Municipality, IKEA challenged École Cantonale d’art de Lausanne, Lund University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts to create new communities with flatpack first homes.

One of the designs at Skogen on display

Also, an open call for submissions and a 10-day sprint competition resulting in +60 open-source designs provide inspiration for modular, packable, and sustainable shelters at Skogen and three great young finalists: Returning from Nature, Tree-House and Cork Loop.

The installation called Returning to Nature, from the winner Marcus Badman of Sweden, invited visitors into a more profound experience of the outdoors via a series of elevated wooden walkways. “Just like being nude with just a pair of socks on enforces the feeling of nudity, the feeling of nature enlarges when walking on top of it,” reads the creator’s notes on this winning concept. A bridge taking visitors even higher and a simple shelter atop an elevated platform completed the design.

Tree-House, a design by Emma Jurczynski of the United States, presented a free-standing shelter inspired by treehouses but requiring no tree. Instead, wooden panels and planks evoked the feeling of a treehouse in a simple structure designed for users to put up anywhere. “The flexibility makes the dwelling useful in a variety of settings, across the globe and for different uses,” the jury that selected the design for inclusion at Skogen writes.

And Cork Loop, from Otis Sloan Brittain of Portugal and the United Kingdom, brought flexibility and modularity to a new level with a shelter system made from cork, natural rubber, and wood. Modules combine to form bigger structures for different purposes in this design. Skogen featured a hoop-shaped structure visitors could step inside for shelter while still enjoying the outdoors. Jurors liked it for its simplicity, flexibility, and sustainability.

“We are curious about the future,” says Marcus Engman, Chief Creative Officer of Ingka Group of IKEAS participation in the Expo. “And by partnering up with a whole city, designers, architectural students, and other visionaries, we could explore it together with fresh perspectives.”

Get inspired by IKEA’s vision for the future and explore what was on show at IKEA.com