The 3D Printed Meatball – IKEA’s Fare May Look Very Different in The Future, To Feature Bugs & Algae


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third-d277c847239f53b989ec7d6e362386199ecf7e78369d98e2e28cd0cf0b15b2b7From the semi-granola type to the full-blown vegan, trying vegetables in nearly every way–from steamed to pressed into some sort of faux meat shape–is usually welcomed. It’s true too, that food in its purest form becomes much more desired once we begin the habit of eating that way. But while roughly hewn algae rolled into a ball might be delicious to the very livestock we are fattening up to make steaks with, for some humans that might far-fetched as a meal source.

Space10 Creative Director Kaave Pour, of IKEA Meatball fame, begs to differ, stating that it’s all in presentation. With headquarters in the center of Copenhagen, Space10 is known as a ‘future living lab and exhibition space.’ This is also IKEA’s external innovation hub. There, the design team has been looking decades ahead into the future of the meatball–and our eating habits. What Space10 has come up with is slightly kooky, but hmmm, is it just me hovering at the lunchtime mark–or does this stuff actually look like it would be quite tasty too?

a0e2e45343cd6ebf43105b94bf4bd295In the same vein used for the inimitable IKEA style, Space10 has now turned to 3D printing to make the meatball even more famous–and into an art form as well. Many who shop at the world’s largest furniture store may not recognize their favorite Swedish delicacy, but will surely be finding ‘Tomorrow’s Meatball’ to be worthy of a double-take in its many forms.

The ‘3D Printed Meatball,’ featured in bright red, is an obvious work in aesthetics, but the technology takes off in a much different direction altogether with the ‘Crispy Bug Ball.’ While the name offers much shock effect, the appearance is definitely appealing.

“We used the meatball’s shape and size as a canvas for future foods scenarios, because we wanted to visualize complicated research in a simple, fun and familiar way. There’s hardly any culture that does not cook meatballs – from the Swedish meatball, to Italian/American spaghetti meatballs to spiced up Middle Eastern kofta,” says Pour.

Kaave Pour points to foods emanating from other cultures which have seeped into the mainstream, allowing once-nontraditional foods to become much more accepted. It’s also important to note how much people enjoy learning to make it on their own as well.

“Take sushi as an example,” said Pour, “which I think is a great example of design that encourages people to try the unfamiliar in a familiar way. When sushi became popular in the West people suddenly ate seaweed, algae and raw fish and I believe that the design of sushi played a crucial part in that.”

f570f6c4c9bde8cdac02dc6df2c76edeOther Space 10 meatball designs include:

  • The Artificial Meatball – grown in a lab
  • The Wonderful Waste Ball – featuring discarded but still usable food
  • The Mighty Powder Ball – filled with meal-replacing nutrients
  • The Nutty Ball – for those who love healthy nut-filled snacks
  • The Lean Green Algae Ball – think one word here: healthy!

Coupled with some sweet or spicy dipping sauce, some of these off-the-wall food designs may prove to be pleasing to any epicurean’s palate. Not only that, with the idea of using 3D printing to turn basic–as well as alternative–food sources into beautiful works of art, eating becomes far more of an exercise in self-sustainability. The team began working on this project not just as a design project, but also to show what we can do in the future to begin eliminating meat consumption and all the environmental issues that accompany it, such as global warming, water usage, deforestation, soil erosion, and more. Their hope is that we as humans can learn to eat more ‘smartly.’12c9939a8d4d79c41a15b8fb3f7473a3

“It’s quite difficult to picture that in the near future we will be eating insects or artificial meat. But, with the increasing demand for food, we need to start considering adding alternative ingredients to our daily menu. You could say that ‘Tomorrow’s Meatball’ gets people a little more familiar with the unfamiliar,” says Bas van de Poel, who was ‘creative in residence at Space10,’ and worked closely on the project with Pour.

While some people may require convincing (and that would be pretty much everyone I know) at first, being able to roll out a variety of creative looking recipes in different shapes, sizes, and flavors could really catch on due to the usual–and substantial–benefits offered by 3D printing: independence in manufacturing, customization, and great affordability. Most of the vegetable sources can be grown easily and cheaply, and in doing so require the use of few resources.

For this project, Pour and Bas van de Poel also worked with Simon Perez, chef and food designer, photographer Lukas Renlund, graphic designer Karin Borring, and storyteller Simon Caspersen.

[Photos: Lukas Renlund / Source: The Creators Project]

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