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Looking at the illustrations in IKEA catalogues it’s hard to believe that 75% of product images and 35% of interiors are pure computer graphics. Other interior pictures are used only partially. Actually, there are no real photos left.
The company has its own “bank” with 25,000 3D models and they compose stunning realistic interiors out of them. Anyone, who needs to furnish an apartments or a house, dreams about such program.
Martin Enthed leads a special IKEA visualization department in charge of making 3D models and rendering. In addition to digitizing their company is also engaged in the development and production of catalogues, furniture assembly instructions and website updating. The same department develops IKEA mobile application.
They began creating the first renders in 2004 and, they confess, there wasn’t much to look at. But two years later their first 3D model was already published in the catalogue. It was a chair called “Bertil”.
Martin Ented insists that nobody has anything against photography. IKEA needs this base of 3D models and interior renders only because it is cheaper, easier and faster than composing an entire interior in real. For example, the most difficult thing is making kitchen interiors: there are hundreds of objects and for different countries they have to invent different situations, in accordance with national traditions. A as matter of fact, furnishing an apartment there may be hundreds variants and alternatives.
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However, initially no one ever thought that it will be possible to furnish entire rooms on the computer. They just wanted to create 3D models of some separate objects. But then it went further. In 2010, IKEA catalogue was first published with completely computer-generated interior.
It’s an entire art to create a beautiful interior render. Experienced IKEA photographers honing their skills worked with interior designers for 15-20 years to achieve the necessary impressions and feelings that should arise when customer visits a room with carefully selected furnishings. They had to impart this knowledge to 3D artists from visualization department, while some of them had just finished school. At first it was difficult and there were no cooperation between two teams.
At some point the head of the department decided that all 3D-designers are required to study photography-and all photographers – to learn 3D software. After this a very intense learning process began. The interesting thing is that afterwards some photographers decided to change their profession and went to work in visualization department and some computer specialists, on the contrary, got involved professionally in photography. It was a great experience exchange.
Now IKEA’s “bank” contains 25,000 3D models “created at a ridiculously high 4Kx4K resolution” as Martin Ented has said (probably, he compared it with resolution of 2D images). In 2009, they had to improve the quality, when administrative board reprimanded their department for low quality models. Now no one can complain about.
To digitize and render 3D models they use at IKEA 3ds Max and V-Ray. Other companies also use this software and even allow editing 3D scenes in browser with WebGL.
IKEA Mobile Application with augmented reality
In recent years IKEA representatives became habitués on the Annual Conference on Computer Graphics SIGGRAPH. Now it is clear that they really have something to tell.
Examples of computer graphics:
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