Space10 proposes linking NFTs to furniture to encourage better care

IKEA’s research lab Space10 developed the concept of connecting virtual furniture to an ever-changing NFT tree, which “grows” with care actions to encourage people to store, repair and recycle their belongings.

In Space10’s speculative project Carbon Banks, the furniture in question is IKEA’s Froset wooden chair, while the intangible token (NFT) is an augmented reality artwork of a tree that reflects the real-life conditions of the object.

The tree grows and shines when someone keeps the chair for a long time, and it reacts when the chair is repaired, resold or traded for another piece of furniture. At the end of its life, the chair can be recycled to start the final appearance – full bloom.

Visualizing tree roots growing in the air above the IKEA Froset chair
Carbon Banks is a speculative project that combines furniture and NFTs

Space10 created Carbon Banks in collaboration with Berlin studio WINT Design Lab to explore the potential of digital assets such as NFTs to create an emotional bond with things in the real world and help us see them as less lost.

“We know furniture waste is a big problem,” Space10 founder Ryan Sherman told Dezeen. “Yet a wooden furniture item can double as a carbon store for decades – if not more – if properly cared for and recycled.”

“Within the ever-changing landscape of NFTs, we saw an opportunity to explore this technology as a promising vehicle to promote circular behavior.”

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Visualizing a green shoot growing from a tree branch
NFT takes the form of a tree that grows over time and maintenance actions

With Carbon Banks, which Space10 is now developing as an example, the experience begins when a person buys a new Froset chair and scans the unique pattern on their chair with their phone.

This action “fixes” their virtual tree, which means that a unique digital asset is recorded on the blockchain, after which it can be bought, sold or sold.

The owner will experience this action like the sprouting of a seedling that seems to be growing in its seat with added facts.

The appearance of the pattern on the side of the lighted chair
The furniture would be linked to the tree by scanning its unique pattern

When a seat is sold or sold, an NFT is associated with it and the change of ownership is registered on the blockchain when the new owner scans the seat and the previous owner authorizes the transfer.

These changes add new, unique plants to the tree, as well as maintenance and maintenance activities. The character of the tree is also based on the production process of the physical object, such as the type of wood used and the place of production.

The art studio Zünc has developed the visualization of the Carbon Bank, which aims to celebrate the beauty of nature while also giving the tree a stylish and “grafted” look, including species chosen for their symbolic association with the seat and its story.

Visualizing a seed germinating with text reading 'day 24'
The tree would start as a seed

“There is a branch with oak leaves – a nod to the oak veneer of the IKEA Froset chair used in the film,” says Zünc Studio. “Pine needles are digitally pruned to resemble bonsai arrangements, a practice of care and patience.”

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“And the ferns that open up after the leg repair are based on the wake fern, which felt appropriate.”

While NFTs have developed a reputation for being unsustainable due to the massive amounts of energy required to run blockchains, Space10 explores how this might change on the Carbon Banks website and in a white paper developed by digital design studio Bakken & Bæck.

Visualization showing a branched tree with interlocking leaves and a highlight on one branch with text that reads 'six years to celebrate six years'
The tree would grow over time and take on a unique, personal shape

The researchers note that switching to a more efficient proof-of-concept protocol – as modeled by blockchains such as Ethereum – could reduce their energy consumption by up to 99.95 percent.

This opens up the possibility of using blockchains for purposes other than speculation and investment, they say.

“NFT applications have evolved over and over again,” Sherman explained. “First there was the ‘digital original’ – one example is the Crypto Punks – where collectability, community and exclusivity were important.”

“Then we started to see ‘digital receipts’: traceable tokens of physical ownership,” he continued.

“Now, there’s a lot of digital twin work going on: adding digital reality to your physical object like ‘buy sneakers IRL and wear them in physical places’. It’s not that far from the mp3 download code you get with a vinyl record but mp3s can be different.”

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Visualizing a beautiful tree wandering around the room with part of its body covered in a thick plant of white flowers.
When the chair is recycled, the tree is covered with white flowers

Space10 positions Carbon Banks as the next generation of NFTs, which this studio calls “digital amplifiers” since the technology is designed to “amplify” the characteristics of a physical object.

“Digital amplifiers are connected to physical objects via blockchain and amplify the objects attached to them, visualizing the history of the object, our relationship with it and encouraging new behavior,” said Sherman.

“It offers a unique opportunity to move from financial incentives to care, where digital objects visualize and reward sustainable behavior in our real world, creating opportunities for new forms of digital expression.”

Visualize an alien digital landscape where glowing white figures meet a tall, majestic tree
NFT holders can share their trees in virtual spaces

Space10 is a Copenhagen-based research and design lab working with the IKEA brand. It often tackles issues of sustainability and the circle with its concepts, prototypes and products, which include everything from open Bee Homes to furniture that can use artificial intelligence to tell owners how to update it.

The studio also worked with architecture studio EFFEKT on a subscription-based collaborative living project called the Urban Village Project, which will bring together people of different generations with shared resources.


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