Month: February 2021

IKEA: Furniture Giant Scraps Printed Catalogues After 70 Years

IKEA: Furniture Giant Scraps Printed Catalogues After 70 Years

February 25, 20218 Minutes

With the first catalogue created in 1951, the IKEA printed catalogue has been a staple for shoppers. Not only has the catalogue inspired the public for 70 years, but it has become a much loved print and an industry standard to look to for inspiration. At the catalogue’s peak, it surpassed 200 million copies a year. It’s no surprise that so many of us, within the industry or not, are sad to see it go. The end comes as the furniture giant moves more online, with their catalogues already housing over 70% CGI imagery over photography and the company focusing more of its time on digital assets, it was only time until printing would come to an end. It feels like a reflection on the industry as a whole as technology starts to transform more traditional marketing efforts.


Over the years, the company has had many worldwide infamous products. Their sheepskin rugs, as seen in bedrooms across the world, were even used as costumes in Game of Thrones. During the 60’s and 70’s, trends brought in colourful plastics and jazzy fabrics,by 1985 IKEA landed in the U.S. and with it brought modern and fresh designs to grace people’s homes and vision boards. All of these eras, beginning to present, are documented online, with IKEA offering us all the opportunity to view every catalogue they’ve ever printed!


Undoubtedly, one of their most iconic products was their printed catalogue. Konrad Grüss, MD of Inter Ikea Systems, was sad to see the printed version of the publication go, stating that “For both customers and co-workers, the Ikea catalogue is a publication that brings a lot of emotions, memories and joy”.

The ending of the printed version of the catalogue is huge for the industry. It may seem small to some, but this is really setting the tone for what’s to come. With such a large company stating that they are focusing their energy more towards online and digital assets really shows that this is the way forward and the ending of something so iconic really does make a statement.


As more and more of us are now looking to shop online instead of in-store, it’s crucial to have your digital assets ready and up-to-date. This doesn’t only apply to the general public, the past year has really shown those of us in the trade that physical meetings, pitches and launches may soon become a thing of the past. We’ve already seen trade shows of 2021 be postponed, or cancelled. Along with this, many clients would rather opt for a video meeting rather than a physical one – with some offices closing for good, the only way to pitch and meet clients is online.


Luckily, we’ve spent the last year looking at new ways where we can adapt and improve our clients’ marketing tools. Digital assets are something that we speak about on a regular basis, they have become increasingly important over the last few months and there is no sign of the focus on the digital age coming to an end soon. Digital and marketing assets aren’t all about the products you have built in CGI, we’ve put together digital asset and marketing sales tools for our clients to use in meetings, online and in-person (when they can). We’ve had incredible feedback surrounding these new methods, with clients letting us know how their marketing and sales tools are now cohesive, easy to access and easy to present. You can read all about these and how we can help here.

In 2005 IKEA started to experiment with CGI and tested the waters in 2006 by placing a single CGI image of a wooden chair in the catalogue – Anneli Sjogren, head of photography, stated that customers didn’t notice the difference! In 2010 they printed the first fully CGI roomset and by 2013 12% of their imagery was CGI. In 2021, over 70% of their imagery is solely CGI – with 75% of product images (cut-outs on white backgrounds) and over 35% of lifestyle imagery being computer generated – not that many of us noticed!


In our studio we love playing a little game of ‘Real or No Real’ (keep your eyes peeled soon for some incredibly photorealistic CGI and a little quiz to test your idea of reality), and even within the studio, we can struggle to tell which is CGI and which is the reference image. Having CGI reach that photorealistic level is down to many different factors that we are constantly learning about and improving on, such as lighting, fabrics and textures (which you can read about here).


We really pride ourselves on how well we can build and create scenes, objects and models within 3D. Many of our own clients, such as Warwick Fabrics, have shifted their focus to CGI, most of the imagery you’ll see on their websites, social media and on any print is work made by us – and the best part? You can hardly tell the difference!

IKEA moved very quickly, investing in a CGI and AR/VR team who created an augmented reality app in 2014. The furniture giant has really set the tone for all of us within the furniture and interiors industry, not only with what they sell, but how they market themselves. They were well ahead of the times when it comes to CGI, back in 2005 if you were to say most furniture imagery would be CGI by 2020, you’d probably be laughed out the room. However, the past year especially, has really shown us where the industry is going and where it’s developing. (you can read about whether using an agency or hiring an in-house team for your imagery will suit you best here)


We find that IKEA often sets the tone for other retailers to follow, so in the coming years we are likely to see more moves away from traditional and into a more virtual world. We are definitely seeing growth in the move to CGI in the industry already. To get one step ahead of your competitors, and make sure you are showing off all of your assets online, get in touch with Orbital’s Unreal creatives today.

Augmented & Virtual Reality Is Now Accessible To Businesses Of Any Size

Augmented & Virtual Reality Is Now Accessible To Businesses Of Any Size

February 17, 20217 Minutes

In the past few months we have noticed more and more of our clients approaching us about creating AR/VR models, 360s and interactive walkthroughs. These are all powerful selling tools within the furniture and interiors industry, they have had a huge impact on a customers shopping experience. As this is something relatively new, it’s not a surprise that many of our clients don’t know where to start, whether it’s easy, or whether it’s possible.


The only thing that has been holding technology back from having AR/VR models as a standard online is internet speed. With 4G we have seen many attempts at introducing AR/VR into the furniture industry, however, results aren’t photorealistic because the live rendering times are too slow. Trying to rush into this new realm can be exciting, but it can also mean that using this technology with 4G means that you have to sacrifice the realness of images, leaving them looking fake, which is what we strive to avoid at all costs. After a long wait, 5G is now here and quickly becoming a standard for the everyday. The newest development in technology has not only seen an incredible increase in internet speed and power, but it is about to change how we interact with our devices and how we shop online.


Within the furniture and interiors industry there are so many possibilities for what 5G can offer us. Not only will we have a greater capacity for data but we will also be able to access data with a delay of 1 millisecond (down from 40-50 milliseconds that we’ve seen with 4G). Due to the power behind 5G, consumers can now expect a more interactive way to shop. With live event experiences and more immersive media, customers and consumers should now expect to see more AR and VR models coming their way. We are advising our clients to prepare themselves now by getting all of their digital assets built and ready to go. Not only will they be prepared for this new leap in technology, but having digital assets is also great for their current online presence and online sales. Not only that, but as soon as the bandwidth is quick enough, all of these assets will be quick, cheap and easy with a level of realism that we can’t imagine right now.

Taking into consideration the current climate, and how it will affect society going forward, this new technology injection will do wonderful things for the furniture industry. With social distancing and faceless customer service bound to be integrated in the post-covid culture, virtual replacements for shopping experiences will only grow. But already, consumers can access furniture models, complete with details and materials, and ‘test them out’ in their own homes – visually of course.


Not only are AR and VR models expected to become the new normal for the industry, but so are real-time, interactive walkthroughs. With trade shows being postponed or cancelled for the second year running, many of us are questioning how the industry will transform and whether trade shows will return in the same way. This makes 3D walkthroughs even more important for our clients as we are expecting to see these replace traditional trade shows.This is an incredible selling tool that can not only be used to sell your products, but to also create more of an interactive experience for your customers, clients and consumers making them more likely to return to shop with you, and recommend your business to others.

The heavy use of 5G across the world means that we will be able to do more and experience more on our phones, making these AR/VR experiences more widely accessible. This all sounds incredible, however, you can’t do any of this without having your products built in CGI. Many retailers and manufacturers who only have a single shot of a product in a single fabric shown on their website are already falling behind when it comes to increasing their online presence and selling capabilities. With the incorporation of 360 models, AR/VR and interactive experiences, the competition within the interiors industry is growing and it’s getting increasingly difficult to stand out.


For most, if not all of our clients, looking into this new realm is quick and easy as they already have their products built in CGI. Of course, all of the above sounds amazing and we can bet you’re thinking ‘how can I get that on my website?’, if you don’t already have models built in CGI, this is your first step! Here at Orbital each of our clients have built their very own digital asset library over time, these include fabrics, models, roomsets and props for lifestyle shots, collected through each project with us. The difficult part is already done. To transform a photoshoot or a range into VR is purely down to rendering from then on. It’s a much simpler process than you might think. Don’t let this scare you though! Our team is at the ready to help you up your online presence, whether that be through a cut-out model or a complete interactive walkthrough of one of your stores!


Get in touch with Orbital’s Unreal Creatives today to discover how to make your marketing more virtual.