When You Flip Through an IKEA Catalog, 75% of the ‘Photography’ You See is CGI


This photo isn’t actually a photo. From the furniture to the beautiful light falling on the countertops and wood floors, what you’re looking at is a CGI rendering that has replaced 75% of the ‘photos’ in the IKEA catalogs the college kids, divorced men and NYC residents in your life have lying around.

This fact, and all of the interesting technical details behind it, is revealed in a fascinating article on The Computer Graphics Society website, where they took some time a couple of months ago to speak with Martin Enthed, the IT Manager for the in-house communication agency of IKEA.


This CGI domination has, it seems, been the case for a while. Enthed first gave a presentation about his team’s work at SIGGRAPH in 2012, but the first fully CGI room to appear in an IKEA catalog was published in 2010. And while there were skeptics who said it could never be as good, they proved themselves wrong as early at 2009:

The real turning point for us was when, in 2009, they called us and said, “You have to stop using CG. I’ve got 200 product images and they’re just terrible. You guys need to practice more.” So we looked at all the images they said weren’t good enough and the two or three they said were great, and the ones they didn’t like were photography and the good ones were all CG! Now, we only talk about a good or a bad image — not what technique created it.”


Today, reveals Enthed, about 75% of all IKEA product images are CGI, and rendered at ‘ridiculously high resolution’ so they’re good for everything from web viewing to wall-sized displays in IKEA’s stores. And as time goes on and rendering software continues to get better, traditional photography promises to play a smaller and smaller role.

To read the full interview and find out just how much Enthed’s team can do on a computer, head over to the Computer Graphics Society website by following the link below.

Building 3D with Ikea [CGSociety]