The modest meatball just got a makeover. A creative team from Space10 — IKEA’s independently run innovation lab in Copenhagen — explored the future of food in an art project called “Tomorrow’s Meatball,” which features an array of meatball-inspired spheres made from viable protein alternatives.

“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,” Kaave Pour, creative director at Space10, said in a news release. “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.”

From powdered protein to fried insects, these special hors d’oeuvres are a far cry from the Swedish meatball. They aren’t available for eating, but feel free to feast your eyes on some of our favorites. (Hat tip: CityLab.)

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The wonderful waste ball

“Waste not, want not” is not just your frugal grandmother’s favorite saying: It’s also a good aim for the global food system, which currently squanders one-third of the food we produce.

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Space10 / Lukas Renlund

The mighty powder ball

So, it’s not the most delectable alternative — but this nutrient-packed, flavorless protein ball could potentially save your life if you ended up on the Hunger Games.


Space10 / Lukas Renlund

The crispy bug ball

Hey, fellow Americans — does this look appetizing? You may experience some cognitive dissonance when your culture’s disgust for eating bugs meets its love for fried food. Nevertheless, insects are nutritious, abundant, and, as Pour pointed out to CityLab, already consumed in 80 percent of countries around the world.

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Space10 / Lukas Renlund

The artificial meatball

Artificial meat is beginning to look like a viable alternative in the face of the world’s growing beef demand. According to Space10, the cost of a lab-grown beef burger has gone from $325,000 in 2013 to a measly $10 today.


Space10 / Lukas Renlund

Move aside, Italian meatball: In the future, who knows what will be on top of your spaghetti and covered with cheese?