The Dwell Arena

Experiments in Living

Welcome to Experiments in Living, an Arena about the future of how we live, where we live, and why we live there. It’s about how where we dwell allows us to be who we are – and who we want to be.

When it comes down to it, all brands are in the business of life at home. Whether you’re a tech company, a health company, a food company or a home furnishing company (and arguably IKEA is across all of these), you have to acknowledge that home is the starting point of everyday life. Life at home, then, is not just a marketing category, but something that cuts across every single interest we have as brands and as companies.”

Katie McCrory, Communications Leader, IKEA Retail (Ingka Group), Curator of the IKEA Life at Home Report

The Carer

Our ‘four walls’ have always been a shelter, a physical boundary, a place to escape the outside world. The place we can be our most private, intimate selves.  ​

But today we’re noticing a subtle shift from home-as-cocoon to home-as-carer: a space that encourages activity (the home gym), that fosters wellbeing (better sleep, better air, more nature) and even proactivity (managing moods & health). ​

For brands it’s a chance to help people manage the inside-outside opportunities and stresses of (urban) living.


Patch make it easy and affordable to bring your home to life with a wide assortment of plants, accessories & tips.


Nature of things produces natural bath products that ease tension, nourish the body and improve sleep.


The Dyson Solarcyle adjusts with daylight to provide high-quality desk light, reduce eye strain and assist with studying.


VAHA‘s smart mirror facilitates live and on-demand exercise classes and personal training, from the comfort of the living room.


Outlook India recently voted the SleepWellOrtho Memory Mattress as the best mattress for orthopaedic support. (image courtesy of Sleepwell).

The Cultivator

The kitchen is often the heart of any home, its most social and vibrant room. Kitchens bring people together around food, conversation and joy. And post-COVID they’re even more important. People are spending more time cooking, entertaining and experimenting. And they want to cook better, and from scratch. But homes are getting smaller, and kitchens are often a contested and pressurized space. Packing more clever solutions into smaller spaces and helping time-poor families find, prepare, grow and recycle fresh food more is where brands can win.


The at-home coffee market, pioneered by Nespresso, is diversifying as consumers spend more time at home.


FoodCycler kitchen products help turn food waste into fertiliser to create a more circular domestic ecosystem. ​


Joseph Joseph’s range of premium products are designed to make cooking at home smarter, more beautiful & easier” for the JJ kitchen range.


COVID accelerated the growth of food kit brands like Hello Fresh! and The Mindful Chef that make scratch cooking simpler.


Brands like Lettuce Grow are offering hydroponic technology to help people grow their own salad and herbs at home.


Hackney in London is home to Growing Communities, an urban farming collective who supply locally grown vegetable boxes.

The Generator

Our homes are almost always our biggest investment: funding them, and our day-to-day living costs can feel like a black hole which sucks all spare cash into its dark embrace.​

In 2022 while our societies face up to the realities of mortgage defaults and crippling energy bills, (and the mental health disaster this will trigger), brands can be better allies for consumers who are hungry for ways to live savvier, simpler lives.  ​

Smart home technology, new energy and circular business models, all offer the promise of a home that’s more generative.


IKEA’s Lagom community provides customers with innovative ways to live more sustainably without breaking the bank.



Air-fryer sales are up 400% at John Lewis in 2021. Running costs are £56 per year to run, vs electric ovens at £336 per year.



African bank Absa integrates the home buying process, connecting potential buyers with agents and mortgage lenders. ​



Lithuania-based reselling platform Vinted is the preferred choice for many casual second-hand sellers and swappers.



Smart-meter penetration reached 75% of US homes in 2021.


The Host

Dwelling = Lingering. Fuelled by global travel, working from anywhere, and communications technology a more flexible, nomadic culture is emerging.​

For some, this is a radical lifestyle choice, to keep moving. Vanlife. The Bali beach office. For others, the snowbirds, it’s about seasonal migration. ​

Dwellings for the ‘age of the new nomads’ need to be more flexible. From co-working to co-living; hotels to temporary residences; and solutions to feel connected to home when you’re away. They’re hosts not homes.


Indian co-living brand Your-Space recently raised $10 million in funding. It operates close to 20,000 furnished rooms across India.



The Digital Nomad Visa, or Portugal D7 Visa, is a special type of visa that allows foreigners to legally stay and work in Portugal.​



The OWO Residences, by Raffles, opening in 2023, illustrate the demand for branded residences that are creating new legacies as well as multidimensional managed dwellings for the well-travelled​.


Founded in 2015, platform Outsite envisions a world where everyone has the freedom to live and work, anywhere.



Google’s smart security range, including doorbell Nest Hello! allows you to remote into your home from wherever you are.​


The Entertainer

From parlour games to model theatres, the home’s always been a place where stories are consumed, games are played and make-believe is celebrated.

But we’re now living in a world where content is designed primarily for consumption at home, gaming is social but distanced (we play ‘together home alone’) and consumers are consumers are modifying their spaces for virtual activities.

And in the age of the inside-out home, broadcast is two-way and bedrooms are the new studios.


SYMFONISK is a sound range created by IKEA and Sonos which is designed to harmonise the sounds of home. (Image courtesy of IKEA.)



Tech brands like Elgato are meeting the growing demand for solutions that transform homes into broadcasting studios. (Image courtesy of Elgato).


Samsung’s smart TV integrates multiple apps while providing an all-encompassing experience.



Lightform x Gabriel Schama and the Hybycozo Table Light provide idiosyncratic lighting for its psychedelic gaming rig.



The McDonald’s Ultimate McCrispy Gaming Chair is fitted to hold a box of large fries, a burger “heat zone” and twin slots for dips.


The Activist

Where you live has always been a social signifier and status symbol. Something to work towards and show off. A sign of success. ​But today’s luxuries are inspired by a less materialistic value system: experiences, personal transformation, ethical capital.​ People aren’t abandoning things, but our relationships with them are changing. Meet the tiny home, personalized appliances, technology as art….


Samsung Bespoke allows people to customise and personalise their appliances to their taste and blend not be bland. ​


Bang & Olufsen has worked with designer Jacob Jensen for over 30 years to shape their unique, exclusive speakers.


Korean start-up OHouse’ recently attracted $190 million of investment. It is now the largest interior platform company in Korea.​


Loom Crafts is an Indian tiny home provider meeting the growing demand for simpler spaces optimized for core needs.

The Concierge

Living today is life in flux. Where, when and how we consume is a flexible choice.

For those who want to take their home with them, or bring things home, it’s never been easier. 
Dark kitchens sprang up during the pandemic but seem here to stay and there are few things you can’t do from your sofa or kitchen table these days.

At the same time, things  that live in the home, like smart speakers, are becoming more portable.


Luckin Coffee exemplifies China’s massive demand for convenient beverage delivery; a huge proportion of stores are “dark” / delivery.


Brands like Gorillas and Getir promise 10-minute delivery times for basic groceries, beverages and even charging cables.


Amazon Fresh integrates home delivery and in-store purchase, with same day pickup and delivery available.


Video conferencing services are changing the way mobility planners are thinking: transport has to sell itself all over again.


Augmented reality technology, like IKEA Place, is making bringing more immersive shopping  into the home a doddle


Portable music tech’s nothing new, but brands like Ultimate Ears are now blurring the boundary between dwelling and on-the-go.

The Facilitator

Connecting to the outside world is turning the home inside-out, creating new interactions and opportunities, but generating a maze of ethical issues as it does.

With connectivity as a critical enabler, and new smarthome standard Matter, arriving, spaces and surfaces are getting an upgrade. Brands can win by helping the home play its crucial role as a facilitator of human interactions.


We spend more time with work colleagues than anyone. Those interactions count and brands like FEZIBO are one of many responding to the demand for standing desks for home.


Google and other big tech brands are moving into the core connectivity space to help create more seamless and joyful experiences.


Home assistants now come with screens, making kitchens not just more entertaining, but also more connected and communicative.


The new standard for smart home products and connectivity should help connect devices into more intelligent connections between objects to help create better connections between people.


The ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) market is expanding to give people new spaces to work, play or hang out, creating new opportunities to connect.

Let’s start by zooming out with 3 global shifts

#1 Humans have become an urban species…

Only two centuries ago, 3% of the world’s population lived in cities. Today, that figure is 55%. By 2030, the number of mega-cities of over 10 million inhabitants will rise by 10 to 43. Humanity is undergoing a fundamental shift: transition from Savannah-dweller to 21st Century Homo Urbanus.

The overall trajectory of people moving towards cities is clear, and our future is firmly urban.

Jonathan Reichental

…but we’re not made for city living.

Densely populated areas can lead to a multitude of social benefits: increased multicultural harmony, creativity and innovation. However, at an individual biological level, humans are not built to cope with the noise pollution, light pollution and physical constraints of urban dwelling. A homo urbanus that is fundamentally better evolved to thrive in urban settings will take hundreds, thousands of years to develop. Governments, brands, communities have a role to play in alleviating the pain points of urban life in the meantime.

Cities are loud and crowded, which is exhausting.

Johanna B, Germany Community Member

#2 A new generation is emerging who wish to own less and travel more…

Gen Next is coming after Gen Z. We don’t yet know the extent of how they will consume. However, against the backdrop of urban living and increasingly small dwellings, the human relationship to belongings is changing. Accumulating and buying things is not of interest nor practical in a small place. Likewise, the post-pandemic normalisation of working remotely has made nomadic life feel accessible to the masses and stimulated a human curiosity to travel more easily.

The overall trajectory of people moving towards cities is clear, and our future is firmly urban.

Jonathan Reichental

…but the world is still designed to keep us rooted

Densely populated areas can lead to a multitude of social benefits: increased multicultural harmony, creativity and innovation. However, at an individual biological level, humans are not built to cope with the noise pollution, light pollution and physical constraints of urban dwelling. A homo urbanus that is fundamentally better evolved to thrive in urban settings will take hundreds, thousands of years to develop. Governments, brands, communities have a role to play in alleviating the pain points of urban life in the meantime.

Everywhere I go, I have Netflix, I use Apple and Google, but none of them know or care that I am a nomad and offer me a designed around that. Everyone has an e-mail address: why can’t we have a universal phone number?

Stephan Pascalides

#3 The pandemic made us more playful…

COVID lockdowns led to a bored population, forced to use their home as a canvas for experimentation and play. From rise of banana bread bakers, to increased Tiktok content production, to home gyms and makeshift studios…This playful relationship with the home has endured beyond the end of the lockdowns.

…but the cost of living makes us crave control

Running in parallel to the desire for care-free playtime in the home, is a more sinister stress: a desire for control, safety and reassurance. The global cost of living crisis, alongside global socio-political conflicts, has led to a global consumer confidence crisis, particularly in governments. People respond to this by wanting to life more independently, self-sufficiently, and with a greater feeling of control.

Yesterday’s home was often

a shelter

a cocoon

a refuge

Today’s home must help humans feel

more in control

more self-sufficient

more themselves

Home has never just meant The Four Walls

We know that home is a feeling, not a physical space. That feeling can be experienced within a space within a room, or as one walks around their home town. It can even be felt in digital spaces. It’s ultimately about where you feel yourself. 

believe that home is where I feel myself.

Dwell Living Habits Study 2022, n=5,000 (USA, UK, BR, IND, CN)

In other words, Today’s home is the enabler of success, not the marker

The dwelling of today is not a status symbol, but rather the place that sets you up for success. This is in line with the express arena, which observed a shift from economic to ethical capital.

Ultimately, the home is the key to me

Only the home can unlock a person’s full potential. Without a fully functioning home, you cannot hope to be the best version of you. Home is the key to me.

C Space Arenas

Customer Inspired Futures.

In partnership with


More than just a battle for attention, Play is the beating heart of acultural revolution. 


More than how we make ourselves look good, Express is a renaissance of “me”.


More than simply how we get from ‘A’ to ‘B’, how we live is how we move.


More than just connectivity, Connect is about the human truths driving our desire to connect.


More than surviving, thriving is believing you’re getting better at living.


This work explores how customers are living today, where they live and why they live there.