Most Pics In IKEA Catalogues Aren’t Photos, They’re 3D Renders

Most Pics In IKEA Catalogues Aren’t Photos, They’re 3D Renders

Swedish furniture behemoth IKEA has very nice, very large catalogues that I had thought contained hundreds of very staged, very nice photos. Turns out that assumption was only half right.

Over the past few years, IKEA has been replacing photos – which can be expensive and laborious to set up – with stunningly lifelike computer images. In 2012, around 12 per cent of the standard product pics in the famous catalogues were the work of computers and artists instead of photographers. A year later, it was 25 per cent. Now, only two years later, that number has shot up to around 75 per cent.

That sharp increase is because, over the past few years, IKEA has built up a “bank” of around 25,000 3D models of its products, which it can now use and re-use in whatever situation, lighting and position it wants.

Most Pics In IKEA Catalogues Aren’t Photos, They’re 3D Renders

Speaking with CGSociety, IKEA’s Martin Enthed explains that CG is also taking over the more elaborate “non-product” images (the bigger, fancier shots combining lots of products into a single themed shot, like the one above).

If you’re wondering why bother, or what use could it have if every catalogue is the same, remember that every catalogue is not the same.

“The most expensive and complicated things we have to create and shoot are kitchens”, Enthed says. “From both an environmental and time point of view, we don’t want to have to ship in all those white-goods from everywhere, shoot them and then ship them all back again. And unfortunately, kitchens are one of those rooms that differ very much depending on where you are in the world. A kitchen in the US will look very different to a kitchen in Japan, for example, or in Germany. So you need lots of different layouts in order to localise the kitchen area in brochures.”

The full interview is really interesting for anyone into art (or Swedish furniture). Turns out that to get the results they get today, the company’s 3D artists were trained as photographers, and the photographers trained as 3D artists, meaning IKEA would start judging images purely on their quality, not how they were made.

Building 3D with Ikea [CG Society, via ‏@alteredq]


  • How da bleep does this have anything to do with gaming, *looks at author’s name*, let me get this straight, this article was posted on a GAMING website, not on a non gaming website, I mean sure it is about cgi but not gaming. AAARGGGHHHH

      • I am not a n00b on this website, I have logged over 200 comments, but in another response to this article “hey checkout, here is another company that lis to its customers”

    • Yeap must be new here. This is called click bait article that generate ads revenue to sustain the website.

      • Actually, a “clickbait” article is one with a headline designed to confuse or tease a reader, which usually bears little to no relation to the content of the piece. “You Won’t Believe What This Celebrity Did Next”, “Is This Skirt Dangerously Short?”, “He Got Fed Up, Then He Got Even”, etc. Hence the term, because it’s baiting you to click, generally from a service like Facebook where you can’t also see the lead paragraph.

        This story’s headline says exactly what you’re getting. Which is a cool interview that was posted on a website dominated by CG artists, most of whom work or have worked in the games industry. Given my “late” shift (on the US site’s) clock, and the fact I usually post games art stuff often featured on sites like CGsociety, I thought this was interesting.

        If you don’t, then…ok!

        • I thought it was interesting. As for relevance to gaming, well it’s about graphics rendered so realistic you can’t tell the difference. That’s about as relevant as most articles on benchmarking tests.

          I wonder if they’ll ever do anything more with the models. You’d think they’d be sending them over to EA for The Sims. Odds are if you spoke to the right person Epic would jump at the chance to help IKEA make a product viewer that showcases both Unreal 4’s graphic capabilities and it’s wide range of platform support. By the sounds of it they’d make their money back licensing it out as a asset pack.

          • Wasn’t there an Ikea ‘Stuff’ expansion for Sims … 2 or 3 ? (Dunno, I stopped playing the Sims a long time ago but still see the boxes in peripheral vision when I’m checking out other stuff @ JB’s or wherever) …

    • This has everything to do with gaming. The new IKEA catalogue turned up today. Now I can get some game time in while she froths over that!

  • I found this article interresting, even if others don’t see a place for it for whatever reason. Thanks @lukeplunkett

  • damn, games companies need to start head hunting these ikea artists, better quality work here than some stuff i’v seen in some recent games

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