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The Ikea Meatball Reimagined 8 Different Ways

Ikea’s innovation lab Space10 explores the future of food using the meatball as its mascot. Bugballs, anyone?

In April, Ikea introduced vegan-friendly Veggie Balls alongside its beloved Swedish meatballs, a first step toward offering a wider selection of healthy, sustainable food. But if 2015 is the year of the Veggie Ball, what does the Ikea meatball of 2025, 2035, or even 2045 look like?

According to Space10, Ikea’s independently-run innovation lab in downtown Copenhagen, it could be meatballs made of bugs, trash, artificial flesh, or something else entirely. Those are just some of the delectables on display in Tomorrow’s Meatball, a visual exploration of the future of food that uses Ikea’s iconic meatball as its mascot.


Teaming up with chef Simon Perez in a project led by creative-in-residence [Bas van de Poel](http://www.basvandepoel.com/), Space10 has a smorgasbord of eight different types of meatballs, each of which explores a different source of sustainable food. There’s the Artificial Meatball, a meatball grown in a vat, and the Wonderful Waste Ball, made of recycled food stuff. The Urban Farmer’s Ball is made up of only locally grown ingredients, while the Mighty Powder Ball is a NASA-style meatball, made of fluffy chemicals. There’s also the Lean Green Algae Ball, and the 3-D Printed Ball (both pretty self-explanatory). Finally, there’s the legume-heavy Nutty Ball, perfect for triggering anencephalic shock, and the Crispy Bug Ball, a deep-fried orb of processed creepie-crawlies.

Space10’s creative director Kaave Pour says the Tomorrow’s Meatball project came out of a desire to explore the future of food. The lab wanted to call attention to the various innovations that promise to diversify what we eat, and the toll our existing eating patterns take on the environment. But how to get people thinking about all these far-out ideas–some of which are a little unpalatable, like eating bugs and sucking algae–in a simple, fun, and familiar way? The meatball was the perfect candidate.


“We always wanted to play around with this little icon,” Pour says. “We used the meatball’s shape and size as a canvas for future foods scenarios, because… [t]here’s hardly any culture that does not cook meatballs: from the Swedish meatball, to Italian/American spaghetti meatballs to spiced up Middle Eastern kofta.”

Sadly, you shouldn’t expect to see these meatballs at Ikea’s café anytime soon: they’re more concept exercises than serious recipes. “No one’s expecting these will be immediately produced,” Pour says. But maybe 20 years down the road, the world will be ready for an Ikea Crispy Bug Ball, which Pour says is quite enjoyable. “It tastes a little like fried chicken,” he claims. And if it doesn’t, that’s what Ikea’s lingonberry sauce is for.

About the author

John Brownlee is a design writer who lives in Somerville, Massachusetts. You can email him at john.brownlee+fastco@gmail.com.