Buying a private island is a little out of reach for most people. But if you happen to be an artist—or anyone working on a creative project—and you’re looking for a quiet place to develop an idea, you might be able to temporarily try out living on a private island for free.
Ideas Island, the brainchild of Swedish creativity expert Fredrik Härén, offers up two private islands near Stockholm and one in the Philippines as incubators for ideas. “My work for the last 14 years has been around inspiring people to get more and better ideas, primarily through speeches and books,” Härén explains. “I felt I wanted to give something back and do something that was tangible, different, and fun that would in itself inspire more ideas.”
Härén originally owned one island, which he used as his own creative escape. When he bought a second, he decided he wanted to share the experience. “I realized more people should get a chance to feel how creative it is to sit on an island and work on their ideas,” he says. “Then I got the third one that I bought with the prime purpose of only letting others stay there.”
After someone sends in a brief application explaining who they are and what idea they plan to explore, Härén selects several people to each get their own week on an island. He also asks guests to make a $1,000 contribution to charity, but if they can’t afford that, it doesn’t mean they won’t get selected. “I try to select the people who inspire me the most,” he says. “I try to get a mix of different people and ideas—it is not always the ‘best’ idea that gets to go.”
Some of the past guests include a techie who wanted to develop a cartoon, a curator from Shanghai who “wanted to get away from the insanity of Shanghai to breathe fresh air and mentally slow down,” a memory expert who developed a new product to help people improve their memory, and a former corporate manager who decided to travel the world to find a more meaningful purpose for his career.
The accommodations aren’t meant to be luxurious, though basic amenities are available. On one of the islands near Stockholm, you travel to the outskirts of the city—picking up groceries along the way—and then take a rowboat across the water. On the island, a Swedish summerhouse has enough room to bring four or five friends along.
The island in the Philippines was damaged in Typhoon Haiyan last fall, so it's temporarily closed. In Sweden, Härén plans to let around 15 to 20 people stay on his islands this summer. And if you're interested in applying, there are still a few spots left. "I like to save some weeks for people who are not so good at planning," he says. Applications are available here.