Digital Handy Work / IKEA

Digital Handy Work / IKEA
Image 7 via the WSJ

Although our digital age allows us to peruse the latest in fashion, furniture and leisure all digitally, sometimes, there’s nothing quite like mindlessly flipping through the pages of a catalogue. Yet, the digital world is quickly penetrating even the tangible pages of furniture magazines, such as IKEA’s latest 200+ million print copies which are replacing labor intensive sets with digital renditions of furniture layouts and color combinations.

As architects who are constantly bombarded with renderings and spend hours perfecting that chosen perspective, can we spot what’s real and what’s not in the catalgoue pages below? Does that glossy kitchen countertop or fluffy blue couch really exist? Or, did IKEA’s digital modelers work their magic and fool us with the renderings – a move that saves IKEA money and still maintains the desired effect.

More after the break. 

In addition to helping IKEA scale back its costs, the new digital method offers a more sustainable take on marketing. No longer will entire sets need to be constructed and outfitted with specific props, only to be dismounted and discarded. Now, IKEA is afforded the flexibility of showing a vast number of combinations and differing layouts minus the physical waste.

Image 2 via the WSJ

“It’s a clever way to save money,” Anneli Sjogren, head of photography at IKEA, told the WSJ. “We don’t have to throw away kitchens in the Dumpster after the photo shoot.”

Image 3 via the WSJ

“With real photography you’re constrained by the four walls. A kitchen has to be built in a week or two and then torn down the following week to make room for a bedroom shoot…everything has to run like clockwork,” added Sjogren.

Image 4 via the WSJ

One strength of the digital move allows IKEA to better advertise for specific markets. For instance, Sjogren explained that a kitchen shown to the Japanese may be more appealing with lighter hues of wood, whereas Americans opt for darker. Such a change in taste would require hours of labor and generate a lot of waste, but in the digital world, with just a few modifications, the scene is completely customized.

Image 5 via the WSJ

Of course, its great news for digital manipulators, but what will happen to the photographers…especially, as IKEA moves fromg 12% digital content to about 25% next year?

Image 6 via the WSJ

For now, different disciplines are working collaboratively to ensure the authenticty of what is displayed digitally.  Photographers offer their skills at crafting a scene, and carpenters/set designers know how the material on an aged door should look.

Digital or Real? Image 1 via the WSJ.

As the WSJ reported,  IKEA said it is retaining all photographers, carpenters and set designers and reapplying their skills to the 3-D environment.

Let’s see how good these graphic artists are.  Let us know in the comments below if you were fooled or if you spotted each rendering.

Image 8 via the WSJ

As seen on the WSJ.

Image 9 via the WSJ

Digital or Real Key:

1 Photo (got ya!); 2 Photo; 3 3D; 4 3D; 5 3D; 6 3D; 7 Photo; 8 Photo; 9 3D

About this author
Cite: Karen Cilento. "Digital Handy Work / IKEA" 28 Aug 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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