IKEA and the Font Fiasco

    Jennifer Farley

    ikea-logo Over the last couple of weeks, there have been a lot of rumblings on the web about a change that IKEA, the Swedish furniture store, has made to their logo and catalogues. To the average IKEA shopper, this change probably went unnoticed, but for type addicts it seems like IKEA has blasphemed.

    For the last fifty years, they have used the Futura font in the logo and in their catalogues. In fact, the font they used is a specially commissioned variation of Futura known as IKEA Sans. The IKEA catalogue is one of the most printed books in the world and the 2010 edition sees Futura replaced with Verdana. Yes, plain old Verdana — the font that’s safe to use on the Web. IKEA have said the reason for the change was to simplify and merge the fonts used on the Web and in print.



    Image Credit: Brandacadabra

    However, many typographers and graphic designers are up in arms in what’s become known as Verdanagate. A Romanian designer, Marius Ursache has set up an online petition asking IKEA to “Please Get Rid Of Verdana”.

    It seems even IKEA themselves are surprised at the backlash. Ivana Hrdlickova, information manager at Ikea in Stockholm, speaking to The Swedish Wire said,

    We didn’t expect people to react this strong. It’s sad that some people react negative. Still, we are very glad that people care so much. But what’s important is the message, not good looking fonts.

    Back To The Futura
    Futura is a geometric sans-serif font designed almost 80 years ago by Paul Renner and is renowned for its near perfect shaped letters. The strokes are of even weight with tall ascenders and upper case characters based on the proportion of classical roman characters. It’s a versatile and very attractive font available in several variations including Light, Medium, Bold, Bold Oblique, Oblique, Book and Extra Bold.


    A little Verdana History

    Verdana was designed by Matthew Carter specifically with screen-based use in mind. It is easy to read at small sizes on a computer screen due to its loose letter-spacing, large x-height. It is a font that is used every day on by web designers millions of web sites.

    And I suspect that’s part of the problem for many designers. Verdana really is everywhere and on so many screens that it could be considered commonplace and when it comes to print, dare I say it, cheap.



    So what do you think, should IKEA revert back to Futura? Does it bother you?  Is this a case of typography snobbery? Should a brand as huge as IKEA change?