Ikea has debuted an indoor farm that grows greens 3 times as fast as in a garden
Ikea is known for its flat-pack kitchen tables, islands, and cabinets.
Now the home-furnishings retailer is experimenting with a product that would allow it to harvest salad greens in-store.
Space10, Ikea's innovation lab, has designed a prototype of a mini-farm that can grow greens and herbs indoors.
The idea is to "explore how Ikea could develop a new, local supply chain for its own food," Space10 spokesperson Simon Caspersen told Business Insider.
Called Lokal, it uses a hydroponic farming system — allowing crops to grow on trays under LEDs in a climate-controlled box. Space10 debuted the device in September at the London Design Festival in Shoreditch.
The Lokal farm lets anyone harvest greens indoors.
Crops grow under LEDs instead of relying on natural sunlight.
This process allows the greens to grow about three times as fast as they would in an outdoor garden.
The Space10 team estimates that Lokal uses 90% less water than a traditional garden to produce the same amount of greens, since the crops grow faster.
Space10 gave 2,000 samples of Lokal microgreens to London Design Week attendees.
The purpose was to see how Londoners felt about Ikea's experiment — and food grown hydroponically in general. In a press release, the team said it was optimistic about the project.
Michael La Cour, the managing director of Ikea Food Services, said in a statement that Lokal still needed to be developed further before the company could decide to grow its own greens in stores.
The Space10 team is now working on adding sensors to the growing trays so users can use Google Home to track how the greens grow. Using machine learning, the sensor system could allow gardeners to learn how to improve the growing process.
This isn't the first time Ikea has experimented with agriculture. In late 2016, Space10 launched a flat-pack spherical garden called the Growroom that grows plants, veggies, and herbs. Ikea made the Growroom's design plans open-source in February.
Ikea also already sells small, countertop gardens that use LED lights and hydroponics to grow greens.
"Lokal could help develop a new, local supply chain — one that enables us to grow more food within our cities, and food that tastes great and is more nutritious, healthy, and fresh all year round," said Guillaume Charny-Brunet, the director of innovation strategy at Space10.