Futuristic yet playful projects and solution-orientated designs, that’s what Space10 is all about. In the last four years, the Copenhagen-based research and design lab (which is backed by multinational group, Ikea) has been exploring innovative concepts — like SolarVille, a working prototype of a neighbourhood powered by solar energy, and future food, with experiments like mealworm burgers — to address the challenges facing us. And now, after pop-ups in New York, London, Shanghai and Nairobi, they’re in India, with a new outpost in the capital.
Housed in the quiet Dhan Mill compound in South Delhi’s Chhatarpur area, this semi-permanent lab will function till April 15 next year. Outside the studio, a decidedly local touch — black Hindi lettering that spells out ‘Space10’ above the door — draws you in. Inside, the two-level space has an easy vibe, with white and blue interiors dotted with indoor plants, figurines by Aman Khanna of Claymen, a hand-tufted rug from the new Matteo Cibic X Jaipur Rugs line, and a coffee and cereal bar. One level up — the staircase painted the signature blue of Copenhagen’s meatpacking district — a circular meeting space and cafe-style work stations lead out to a wood-toned terrace, completing the rustic-chic look.
- On the ground level of the studio, the centrepiece is an an eye-catching installation: curtains of white and indigo fabric in tie-and-dye and bandhini prints suspended from the ceiling in waves of different textures. Designed by Sharma, she says she wanted to create something welcoming, open, curious, “which is also the purpose of Space 10 coming to Delhi. I wanted to create a relevant piece that reflects the city and this difficult time. I also wanted it to be about sustainability, so it is made from leftover material from the design studio 11:11, using different techniques such as stitching together shreds of fabric and embroidery. I wanted the installation to act like a shelter, a safe haven”.
Time for action
But why is Space10 running its longest programme (outside of Denmark) here? “We’ve had a few Indians in residence who are crazy talented and that sparked the interest,” says co-founder and managing director Kaave Pour. Now they are looking to gather experts and thinkers from a variety of fields — designers, engineers, artists, architects, academics, entrepreneurs, activists — to discuss design and new technology in an Indian context. “We will also start facilitating a handful of collaborations with partners from across the country, such as Start and The Busride [design and innovation studios],” he says. “We are looking at university partnership and residencies too.”
It felt appropriate then, to begin their innings in Delhi by responding to the public health emergency. Their inaugural weekend late last month focussed on ways to tackle air pollution through design. Monish Siripurapu from Ant Studio spoke about re-interpreting the art of natural air cooling and purification, while Tamseel Hussain, of letmebreathe.in (a platform that documents tales of pollution and climate change), looked into the power of storytelling during a public health crisis. Last weekend pivoted on energy, with speakers like Starlene Sharma of CleanTech-WIN (which promotes the participation and growth of women in the green economy) and Abhishek Jain of CEEW (Council on Energy, Environment and Water) exploring how we can reimagine our energy system to democratise access to clean energy.
Over the next few months, Space10 will conduct talks and exhibitions, besides hosting concerts and performance art. For the local creative community, this offers a unique working experience. “I’ve never seen a space like this in India,” says Neel Tamhane, who’s collaborating with the studio to research and design solutions for a sustainable energy future. “[Usually] people in my field tend to engage with those with similar interests, but Space10 is breaking down that silo.” For Akanksha Deo Sharma, Ikea’s Indian designer, a collaboration with Space10 was organic. “The structure and programming are more open, inviting you to collaborate. They come with a different set of views. It’s a Scandinavian way of living, but what’s interesting is how they are integrating the local, doing a crossover, and inspiring a cross cultural dialogue,” she says. How the next few months go will determine the future of Space10 in India, and whether there will be a second phase.