The Pictures in Your Home Goods Catalogs Are Probably Computer Rendered | Smart News | Smithsonian
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The Pictures in Your Home Goods Catalogs Are Probably Computer Rendered

Some materials are harder to render than others, but soon those catalogs will be full of space that never existed in the real world

smithsonian.com

Image: Pikcells

Open up a catalog from Pottery Barn or Create & Barrel and you’ll instantly feel like your own home is inadequate. The perfectly rolled towels, pristine stainless steel and perfect lighting falling over the clean and color-coordinated ottomans. But now you can take solace in the fact that those images aren’t real: they’re mostly computer generated.

Dezeen spoke with Richard Benson, the creative director of Pikcells, a company that makes these computer-generated images. “Many furniture manufactures are using this medium to put together their catalogues and such,” he said. “The technology can now make these wonderfully realistic images as good as photography, and in some cases better. Most kitchen, bedroom and bathroom companies now use CGI to create their marketing material and no one has realised.”

Ikea announced last summer that its catalogs would start to fill up with CGI versions of their Gorms and Malms, but they’re certainly not the only ones. Using computers allows for designers to create exactly the image they want without having to build massive sets and keep things clean. And while magazines often think they’re avoiding CGI, some publish them unknowingly, reports Rose Etherington at Dezeen:

Magazines try to avoid publishing CGI images, Benson said, but they often published them unknowingly. “We’ve had loads of our stuff in magazines,” he said, including a recent interior that Pikcells developed from scratch for wood and laminate brand Kronospan. “A kitchen from the Fresh project was featured in Grand Designs in the future kitchen section and I don’t think they knew it was CGI.”

Some spaces are easier than others, Benson says. Kitchens and bathrooms, where materials are hard and flat, are easier to render. Softer spaces like bedrooms present a larger challenge. And flowers and other complex decorations are still beyond them. But Benson thinks that soon those catalogs will be full of space that never existed in the real world.

More from Smithsonian.com:

That’s Edutainment: The Problems with CGI-Based Documentaries
Resurrecting the Dead With Computer Graphics

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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