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Modular Mailbox / Klarna

Klarna future shopping lab is an on-going research project that explores optimistic and somewhat unexpected future shopping experiences. We at Note have been collaborating with them on the first scenario — the modular mailbox.

  • Project facts
  • Client: Klarna
  • Location: New York
  • Year: 2020

Klarna, the leading global shopping service, recently launched a research project that explores how different aspects of shopping and retail experiences will look like in the future. We at Note have been helped them on designing and thinking the first prototype called “The Modular Mailbox”.

Klarna Future Shopping Lab has explored the future of the mailbox – transforming it from a static relic to a modular platform for future e-commerce, deliveries, returns, and shoppable neighborhoods.

As the world shifts deeper into digital, once-essential everyday objects fall out of daily use, steadily becoming relics of a bygone age. The mailbox is a case in point. Ubiquitous, but increasingly underused, the mailbox has been superseded by the advent of online communication. With our messaging shifting further into exclusively digital channels, there is a risk that the humble mailbox may become entirely redundant.

At the same time, online shopping is growing exponentially, creating an ever-increasing number of parcels on their way to our homes. Meanwhile, people look for more personalised experiences, and new ways to live more sustainably. 

What if we could save the mailbox? What if we could reimagine it to serve the needs of the digital age as well as it did those of the analogue?


This was the challenge that online-shopping giant Klarna posed to our studio and as part of its newly launched Future Shopping Lab initiative. Attracted our cross-disciplinary approach, with projects spanning architecture, design and innovation, Klarna invited Note to play both the role of experts and as visual designers, tasked with bringing the concept to life.

The project is the result of close collaboration between our studio and the academics and industry leaders recruited to Klarna’s expert panel. They included:


  • Daniel Heckscher – Co-founder and Head of Design at Note
  • Cristiano Pigazzini – Design Manager at Note 
  • Ana Andjelic – Author of The Business of Aspiration, Sociology PhD and one of Forbes’ Most Influential CMOs
  • Iskander Smit – Director of Cities of Things Lab at Delft University 
  • Rasmus Fahlander – Director of Purchase Experience at Klarna


Focusing on the three areas of technology, retail and society, the group developed the hypothesis of the Modular Mailbox – a multifunctional system with social responsibility and sustainability at its core.


“Deconstructing the mailbox and the infrastructure behind it unlocks new possibilities.”


Iskander Smit, Director of Cities of Things Lab at Delft University

The Modular Mailbox

The modular mailbox is a future-looking prototype with four core modules focused on shopping, sharing and sustainability. It is fuelled by AI, primed for connectivity, and designed to enable third-party partners to build niche modules to serve specific needs and experiences.

Note’s modules transform the concept of the mailbox from a static object, serving solely as a tool for receiving things, into a platform that supports circularity, facilitates new transactions and makes life easier. Each modular mailbox is a part of a wider, connected network, where all modular mailboxes, and the services they enable, are connected and easily accessed digitally.


Module #1: The In- and Outbox

This module features space that can hold incoming deliveries of different types, such as packages or food. It also includes space for outgoing parcels, such as returns or things sold on eBay. This makes returns instantly available for others to buy, allowing neighbours to act on hyperlocal shopping opportunities. As a result, neighborhoods themselves become shoppable.


“If you’re a frequent online shopper, you will no doubt return a lot of products over time. This makes the way in which returns are handled very important, both in terms of experience and sustainability.”

Daniel Heckscher — Interior Architect / Partner

Module #2: The Recycling Bo

This module features space for recyclable waste from household and e-commerce.

Like a paper-shredder, the mouth of the module grinds and atomises materials, compressing them into a high-density recyclable block. These can easily be stacked on top of each other, like LEGO, making it easy for logistics service providers to utilise empty space in their delivery vehicles. They collect the recycling at the same time as they deliver parcels to the Modular Mailbox, creating a circular loop.


“Everything in the world of recycling is horizontal. Just by making the entry point to the module vertical, you can tell that this is a different way of approaching recycling.”

Cristiano Pigazzini — Design Manager / Founder

“Instead of having a few, large, recycling facilities, it would make greater sense to build a structure on smaller cells, transforming every household into a micro-hub for recycling.”

Daniel Heckscher — Interior Architect / Partner

Module #3: The 3D-printer Box

This module features a multi-material 3D-printer that enables users to print small products and spare parts, cutting down on shipments and increasing the repairability of existing products. The module is flexible, depending on the size and characteristics of the object to be printed, and connected to e-commerce platforms that allows users to buy printable products or 3D plans. The printer can also be made available for others in the community to use.


“3D printing is a potential revolution for repairability.”



Iskander Smit, Director of Cities of Things Lab, Delft University

Module #4: The Sharing Box

This module contains a storage room for products that the owner wants to share with their neighbourhood. It supports community sharing and growth of local sharing economies, enabling people to look for available solutions close by before buying new products.


“So much innovation has been done on getting things to your home. The innovation I believe is missing is getting things out of our homes.”



Ana Andjelic, Author, The Business of Aspiration

An infinitely expandable system

Besides the four core functions, the Modular Mailbox provides endless opportunities for additional modules. Third parties can develop niche modules that users can add to their Modular Mailboxes.These might include variations in module size or capacity, a drone-pad module to support drone deliveries, or even brand-specific delivery modules, designed to enhance brand perception and the users’ unboxing experience.