A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

What’s it like inside Europe’s largest photo studio? IKEA Communications AB

With my life-long fascination with design, layout, and the Ikea catalog, it was absolutely awesome getting a chance to visit the IKEA studio in Almhult.

Not only are all Ikea roomsets you’ll ever see in your life done in the 8,000 square meter space, it’s also where the catalog is created, where all the photos are taken, and where the 3D artists sit. Did you take yesterday’s quiz? Were you able to guess which of the roomsets is shot in the studio and which was created by the 3D artists?

design team

Our tour was started by meeting Anne-Lene Wold, the Interior Design Manager at IKEA, and Kajsa Orvarson, the Information Manager. They showed us the little quiz (I was the only one who guessed all three images correctly, yay for the 3D Max classes we were forced to take in college), and then took us on a tour around the studio, which includes a hundred million gazillion props from all over the world, tens of roomsets being shot for next year’s calendar, and the working spaces of many of the creative people at IKEA.

My favorite part though about the studio? All the props.

I’ve always had a fascination with how Ikea makes such livable furniture. You know, livability isn’t something you buy with the flatpacked bed, nor is it a magic ingredient sprinkled into the wood or plastic.

Livability is a carefully-studied act of conscious design.

In a way, it’s similar to food styling (my latest obsession), and trying to make things look “yum”. It’s also a practical application of visual order and visual chaos, another topic I’m obsessed with.

Ikea are masters at perfecting livability. They somehow manage to take brand new furniture, shove it into a studio, and turn it into something that could easily be the much-loved home of a 26-year-old woman who works in marketing at a local restaurant. It’s genius.

For example, look at these rooms, shot in a cold, neon-lit, aluminum studio:




Are you kidding me? These are studio shots? When can I move into any of these rooms? I don’t mind living in a studio if my room looks like that.

Just look at these images. The way the shoes on the floor make you feel like someone just stepped out of the room. The way the books look so loved. The artwork so lovingly collected.

Holy cow, it’s hard to explain how difficult faking livability is.

With that in mind, I was absolutely BLOWN AWAY with Ikea’s rooms and rooms and rooms of props.

Check this out:

Cute robots of all sizes

Different food items from all over the world to make kitchens universally appealing in the ctatalog

random stuff
Random items to spice up the rooms

Brushes and make up to make a girl’s room look like a girl’s room

Sculptures for use in design

Hundreds of necklaces to suit every female in the universe

Scarves of all colors to be tossed on that bed or hung somewhere

shoes with leaves
This blew my mind… shoes with leaves glued on. Someone was just raking the leaves in the fall

ikea books
Color-coded books, baybee

ikea studio
A room in the making

So yes… this is the art and science behind the Ikea catalog. How amazing is this?


Can you tell which of these Ikea rooms is real and which is 3D?


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  1. Ach, Roba, another of your posts which resonates with me. My fascination with design and liveability goes back to Terence Conran’s ‘Habitat’, which astounded us back in the sixties. In Paris in the seventies Ikea came up on my radar and subsequently made Berlin, Cologne, Abu Dhabi and now Munich liveable!

    Your interest in food styling is shared by my daughter ( a year younger than you) who is working for the Munich office of Stockfood ( building apps and ebooks before she heads to London to do her Masters at King’s College. Will she be relying on Ikea to make London liveable? I reckon she will…

  2. Haitham

    I had understood, since long ago, that Ikea catalogues’ secret to unchallenged appeal among competition is the idea of capturing a life that has just left the frame, and quite a vibrant and fresh life too. How the competition hasn’t caught up yet is beyond me.

    However, I’ve never noticed the fetishism in the colours of the books and spice jars, Thank you Roba.

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