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.