Ikea Uses Fake, Digitally Created Rooms Inside Its Catalog

When you're flipping through the IKEA catalog and wondering how they make all that easy-to-assemble furniture look so good inside that lovely apartment, know this: it's fake. As in, it doesn't exist. As in, it was made on a computer by a 3D graphic artist.

According to the WSJ, 12% of IKEA pictures—catalog, web, brochure—were made digitally. The furniture giant expects that number to increase to 25% next year. Why are they making fake photos instead of constructing elaborate sets with pristine lighting conditions and ace photographers? Well, as you can imagine, the old way got too expensive. Faking it on a computer is much cheaper.

It's funny, IKEA's whole mock 3D design didn't start until 2005 when three interns were tasked to creating an image of an IKEA product without using a camera. It took them a year, but they figured it out and IKEA has been incorporating more and more digital renders in each catalog.

IKEA has been getting better at faking the funk though: the graphic artists work with a traditional studio's crew to help make the images "more real". For example, they would work with a carpenter to digitally age a door or add fingerprints to a surface to make it look lived-in. What the IKEA graphic artists can't yet master is food, so the apartments typically look completely empty. Check out these images to see if you can tell what's real (they're both fake).

Ikea Uses Fake, Digitally Created Rooms Inside Its Catalog

And here's what the designers do, behind the scenes:

Ikea Uses Fake, Digitally Created Rooms Inside Its Catalog

IKEA publishes 208 million catalogs a year (more than double the amount of Bibles, apparently) and I'm guessing very few people know they're looking at rooms that don't exist. But look at that side table! Only 19 bucks! [WSJ via Apartment Therapy]