Every year, CGSociety goes to SIGGRAPH, one of the premier conferences on innovation for the computer graphics and VFX industries in the world. In 2012, we watched as Martin Enthed, the IT Manager for the in-house communication agency of IKEA, gave a short presentation. He told us how their visualisation team had evolved from the use of traditional photography for the IKEA catalogue to a system today, where the bulk of its imagery is CG. I remember leaving the auditorium (which was packed) thinking, “Those natural-looking photographs in the IKEA catalogues are amazing. I can’t believe they’re mostly CG. It’s incredible.” It was such a great presentation that we went and saw it again in 2013 when it was an official talk, and figured you guys might like to know how IKEA did it – what they had to build and innovate to get their still images to look so real. So we made a time to catch up with Martin, and asked him how and why IKEA decided to make the leap from traditional to digital.
Martin Enthed and his team work in one of the many IKEA companies, IKEA Communications AB. “When it comes to products,” explains Martin, “IKEA of Sweden designs and develops the product range. The global marketing and communication department decides what communication about the range is important to reach the consumers. We then create concepts and communication ideas, which we produce in different ways. We do the assembly instructions you all know so well! We create product images, labels, the IKEA catalogue, the IKEA.com website, prints for in-package and on-package etc. We do most of the global communication for IKEA. All the communication we create and produce should ultimately help consumers to understand how IKEA can help them create a better everyday life.”
In the summer of 2004, IKEA decided to change the way they produced their product images. They made the first tentative moves toward CG rendered, rather than photographic, images. “We made 8 or 10 quite bad product visualisations by today’s standards,” says Martin, “but it sparked something and we continued to work at it. In the fall of 2006 we first showed a product in the catalogue. The first CG piece of furniture was a chair called “Bertil”. Read more…