IKEA's fantasy Dream Kitchens return

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Forsman & Bodenfors has garnered nearly every creative award available for two prior efforts for IKEA, "Dream Kitchens for Everyone" and "Come Into the Closet." How could they possibly top them in the latest, an update on the original Dream Kitchens? We asked web director Mathias Appelblad.

What parts of the original Dream Kitchens site did you want to draw on when you made the new site?

MA: After the success of the two previous Dream Kitchen campaigns, we had learned a lot about how a web site can inspire people to start thinking about a new kitchen. Considering the old Hollywood sequel formula—50% known and 50% unknown—we decided to retain a really straightforward and intuitive navigation in order to give a feeling of total control when moving around the kitchens. Music also played a key role in creating the right moods for the different kitchens, so we've put a lot of emphasis on creating tunes that enhance the atmosphere in each setting. The frozen moments visuals have become kind of a trade mark from the previous IKEA sites, so we decided to keep this technique also. But the most important ingredient was of course magnificent kitchen sets. We added a way for the user to turn around at any point in the kitchens to look around and take the kitchen journey the other way But the big question was: How can we make experiencing great kitchens ever greater? We decided to give the kitchens more context - add dining areas, show the house exteriors and even the places where the houses are located. All of a sudden, our former doll house concept turned into a trip around the world through five kitchens. This immediately felt like just the kind of wow factor we were after.

How does the video work, where the person using the site can crawl through so many kitchens? How extensive was the shoot?

MA: The video consists of ridiculously many sequences stitched together into a seamless journey. All exterior shots were filmed in South Africa, this being the only place where we found all the different locations needed. Director Anders Hallberg did most of the scouting himself to make sure that all locations would match the transitions between exterior and interior to create one single smooth movement throughout the site. The same is true for the exterior pans, which had to match the movement of the computer controlled camera inside the kitchens. Building exteriors were also shot on location, but in addition they were mapped and rebuilt in the studio and in 3D in order to warrant believable pass-through sequences. Interior sets were built in a studio and shot with a computer controlled motion control rig called a Milo. The Milo is the size of a small car and runs on rails, which gets a bit tricky when you need to have kitchens, dining areas and frozen people in a set with 360° views. So the sets had to be built lego style, with different parts being removable to make space for the Milo, and different parts of each set had to be filmed in unnumbered passes, to be assembled to one perfect shot in the end. And all that in two directions, with multiple turning points...Syndicate, who took care of the post production and 3D mapping, did a heroic job putting everything together. In other words, it was a quite complex shoot, possibly the most complex we've ever done.

Is there a functional aspect of the inter-kitchen parts, with the spinning items, in addition to their role in showing gadgets and housewares to the user? Does a video load happen while those are going on?

MA: Together with our web production company Kokakaka (who by the way are complete geniuses) we created a loader that allows the user to interact with the site while the video buffers in the background. But the loading issue is not the only reason we introduced the parts with the spinning kitchen products—the "product universe", as we fondly call it. It's quite simple, we wanted to show some of the really cool and inexpensive IKEA gadgets closer up without cluttering up the kitchen interiors with too many hot spots and prices. IKEA also needed a flexible way to update featured products in different markets.

What was the most difficult part of creating the site?

MA: Realizing that what seemed like a pretty straightforward idea was such a monster to produce. And that even during the production, we often did not have much of an idea how to get it done, or if it was even possible. But somehow we pulled it off in the end thanks to pure naive willpower and a ton of help from our exceptional partners.
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