Here’s Why Your Ikea Kitchen Doesn’t Look as Good as the One in the Catalog

Slate’s design blog.
Sept. 5 2014 11:27 AM

Most of Ikea’s Product Images Are Computer-Generated

The Bertil chair, Ikea’s first computer-generated product image.

Courtesy of Ikea

Ever wonder why the Ikea products look so good compared with your apartment filled with Ikea furniture? A recent article in CGSociety revealed that 75 percent of Ikea’s product images are not photographs of the famously inexpensive and hard-to-assemble furniture but are computer-generated.*

In the article, Martin Enthed, the IT manager for Ikea’s in-house communication agency (which also happens to be responsible for the notoriously head-exploding hieroglyphics known as Ikea assembly instructions), explains that the company began discussing how to abandon traditional photography for a computer-generated approach a decade ago. The initial goal wasn’t to improve image quality, he said, but to streamline the logistics of producing images and to save money normally spent building and shipping prototype furniture around the world to be photographed.

The Ikea catalog is a mix of traditional photography and computer-generated images.

Screencap of IKEA catalog

Ikea produced its first computer-generated furniture image of the Bertil chair in 2006. In 2010, Ikea created an entire room using computer-generated imagery. By 2012, 12 percent of its catalog and online images were computer-generated, according to the Wall Street Journal. But by the time Ikea decided to shift from traditional photography to computer-generated images, Enthed explained, its catalog and website already had a signature look, and the company was keen to make sure that its customers wouldn’t notice a difference. The company’s 3-D artists were required to learn about photography, and the photographers had to learn how to create 3-D images. Ikea now has a bank of 25,000 high-resolution models sharp enough to capture the texture in a sofa. 


Check out CGSociety's article for more on how Ikea creates its images.

*Correction, Sept. 5, 2014: This post originally stated that 75 percent of Ikea catalog images are computer-generated. Three-fourths of Ikea’s single product shots are computer-generated; most of the catalog images are photographed the traditional way in the Ikea Communications studio in Älmhult, Sweden.


Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

What Hillary Clinton’s Iowa Remarks Reveal About Her 2016 Fears

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

John Oliver Pleads for Scotland to Stay With the U.K.

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter


Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 

The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police

The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 1:51 PM Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police
  News & Politics
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
Dear Prudence
Sept. 15 2014 3:44 PM Home Work Prudie advises a man who wants to be a stay-at-home dad, but his wife refuses.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 8:41 PM You’re Cut, Adrian Peterson Why fantasy football owners should release the Minnesota Vikings star.