Revisiting Made in Space

Missed Made in Space? Here's a recap of our first festival exploring alternative futures.

Imagine a festival where you could start your day with coffee, croissants—and a workshop about co-living. A festival where you could hear talks about smart cities and blockchain, the future of shared living and co-designing cities with Minecraft. A festival where you could make your own wearable technology in the morning, explore an urban farm in the afternoon, and spend the evening drinking funky wine, before cutting some rug on the dance floor. Welcome to Made in Space, a brand-new festival of ideas launched by SPACE10—Ikea’s external future-living lab—in Copenhagen.

brain food

A three-day gathering in the Danish capital’s meatpacking district, Made in Space was as much about nourishing the brain as feeding the stomach. And with a programme that included eye-catching art and world-class musicians, it got ticket-holders thinking hard and dancing even harder.

For some, the highlight may have been Liam Young’s mesmerising presentation of Where the City Can’t See—the world’s first narrative fiction film shot with the same scanning technologies used in autonomous vehicles, in which “the near future city is recorded through the eyes of the robots that manage it”.

For others, it could have been architect Indy Johar’s provocative talk encouraging us to go “beyond the cult of the individual and the cult of now” and challenge the idea that there’s a single solution to a problem as complex as, say, obesity or the housing shortage. And few will forget the biodynamic dinner held in the quirky pop-up space known as CLOUD9—imagine a huge inflatable tent filled with white sand and butterflies—where the natural wine flowed liberally and Danish chanteuse Coco O. stunned guests with a spine-tingling performance.

Three themes, one party

Billed as a hybrid event, the inaugural Made in Space began under bright blue skies and blazing sunshine. It kicked off with a trio of workshops exploring the festival’s three major themes: co-existence, circular economy and digital empowerment. Over in the Garage—an industrial corner of the meatpacking district—Danish startup Almennr asked participants to “co-dream and co-design” the kind of shared housing they would most enjoy; at their nearby headquarters, SPACE10 got people to discuss how they feel about artificial intelligence; and in the otherworldly CLOUD9, young Australian entrepreneur Al Jeffery explored how “facilitation” can be used to connect communities and help them to evolve organically (watch).

Meanwhile, New York-based designers Anton & Irene picked up the co-living thread at the Sort/Hvid Theatre—the fourth Made in Space venue in the meatpacking district. Drawing on her childhood experience living in shared housing, Irene asked the audience to imagine what co-living might look like in 2030—when there’ll be 1.2 billion more people on the planet and 70 percent of us living in cities (watch).

Thursday also saw Tomas Diez of Fab Lab Barcelona discuss bringing production back to cities so we can make things in our neighbourhoods, and avoid the global circulation of materials. “We are witnessing a paradigm shift from centralised, to decentralised, to distributed,” Diez said.

Meanwhile, Pontus Westerberg of UN Habitat talked about the agency's pioneering use of the popular video game Minecraft in co-creating public spaces in cities in the developing world. Cities are typically designed so they first get buildings, then traffic, then life, Westerberg explained. “Let’s flip that round,” he said. “One way of doing that is to involve community to bring their voices in, in a community participation process.”

Magazines, movies and music

Thursday also saw the launch of SPACE10’s new magazine, IMAGINE, which explores “the brave new world of design and manufacturing”; a late-night screening of The Happy Film, a feature-length documentary which asks if it’s possible for a person to have a meaningful impact on their own happiness; and a gorgeous piano-led performance over dinner in CLOUD9 by the multitalented Danish singer Oh Land.

Day two began with three more extraordinary workshops. Danish startup Andel got guests thinking about the concept of “neighbourliness”; SPACE10’s bioengineer Keenan Pinto showed participants how to build their own “bioreactor” using microalgae; and Rachel Wingfield of Loop.pH taught her audience how to use Archilace, a structural technique in which composite fibres are woven into complex geometries based on carbon nano-science to create strong, lightweight and flexible adaptive structures.

Friday's highlights also included Katharine Unger discussing insect farms; Madeleine Kate McGowan and tribe member Leo Yankton talking about the Standing Rock reservation; a roundtable discussion about the ethics of AI; Ravi Naidoo—the founder of the Design Indaba conference in South Africa—on “betting the farm on Africa's creative future” (watch); and Coco O.’s stunning set during Rosforth & Rosforth’s biodynamic dinner. Rounding off day two were Danish prog rock group Værket and Australia’s Harvey Sutherland & Bermuda—who got everyone dancing.

Co-living, coding and a ‘community plant dance’

Day three began with workshops on co-living in 2030 and circular systems design, as well as a hands-on session in which participants could “train their own algorithm” without any prior coding experience. Later, SPACE10’s Keenan Pinto, Stefannia Russo and Simon Perez gave guests a tour of their hydroponic farm in the basement, along with a tasty salad for lunch.

Over in the Sort/Hvid theatre, Sinus Lynge gave his audience a preview of ReGen Villages—a new visionary model for the development of off-grid, integrated and resilient eco-villages that can power and feed self-reliant families around the world; Leyla Acaroglu spoke enthusiastically about the intersection of cognitive, social and environmental sciences to build experiences and interventions that help challenge the status quo and shift the trajectory of the future towards sustainability (watch); Jessi Baker explained why “blockchain technology is the new trust” (watch); Carlo Ratti delivered a much-anticipated talk about his pioneering work at MIT’s Senseable Cities Lab (watch); and Alastair Parvin, the founder of WikiHouses, explained how to use technology “to digitise and democratise housing and its production” (watch).

Saturday also saw a huge crowd gather in the Garage for Girls Are Awesome’s session with three women from the worlds of religion, tech and science, who “combine ethics and utopian thinking in their work, and thrive in a traditionally male-dominated space”—including Denmark’s first female imam. The day ended with food artist Caroline Hobkinson’s “Edible Performance in Eight Bites”, an elaborate dinner based on the idea of co-existence, where diners ate with long spoons and tasted pickled jars of “summer memories”.

After dinner, CLOUD9 swelled with festival-goers keen to hear musicians and DJs like Douglas Dare and Drøm. The party soon morphed into what can only be described as a “communal plant party”. It will live long in the memory—and, as with the rest of Made in Space, you had to be there. 

To see highlights of this year's festival, visit

You can also watch all the videos from the event here, including full talks and conversations.

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