Space10 explores moving beyond “human-centred” design with Mexico’s biomaterials

Ikea’s design lab is aiming to rethink what constitutes good design amidst an accelerating climate crisis and rising inequality.

26 January 2022


Joining the movement of designers seeking to rethink who design should serve, and at what cost, Space10, Ikea’s research and design lab, is investigating how design and technology can build better conditions for people and the planet. Hoping to “gather diverse perspectives” and further research the topic, on 26 March they will host a two-week pop-up in Mexico City at exhibition space Loot, on the theme: Beyond Human-Centred Design. As part of the pop-up, material translator Seetal Solanki from Ma-tt-er will work with residents to explore and investigate local biomaterials in Mexico and how they can be used to create more sustainable design.

Space10 and Seetal Solanki are researching this area as part of an “urgent need for design to prioritise the application of abundant [local] biomaterials”. Working with residents, they hope to answer if we can positively affect our local environments by designing with readily available materials that are representative of the specific places we live. A release on the research asks: “Could the by-product of tequila production, the Sargassum seaweed piling up on the shores, or corn husk become tomorrow’s materials?”

“The biggest and most urgent creative challenge of our time is how we meet the needs and dreams of the many people while remaining within the boundaries of the planet,” says Simon Caspersen, Space10 co-founder. “We have un-deliberately designed ourselves into the mess we find ourselves in today. As such, the purpose of setting up Space10 in Mexico City is to create a platform where we can come together as a design community and discuss how we design our way out of it. It’s pretty clear it’s time we redefine what constitutes good design.”

Looking for three to five creatives who are experts in the local bioregions and natural materials of Mexico to complete this research, Space10 will host a six-week residency for five designers based in Mexico as part of the pop-up. The residency is planned from 28 February to 9 April 2022. Applicants can apply via Space10's website; the deadline for applications is 3 February 2022.

The wider pop-up event in Mexico City will include talks, interactive experiences, hackathons and art installations, bringing together a diverse line-up of artists, designers, technologists, architects, academics, entrepreneurs and activists.


Francisco Cortés: Space10 pop-up (Copyright © Space10, 2022)


Francisco Cortés: Space10 pop-up (Copyright © Space10, 2022)


Alexis Mark: Space10 pop-up (Copyright © Space10, 2022)

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Francisco Cortés: Space10 pop-up (Copyright © Space10, 2022)

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Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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