Only a total nerd like me would find this utterly fascinating, but IKEA stepped into a small shitstorm this week with the release of their ubiquitous 2010 catalog by changing their signature typeface of Futura over to *gasp* – Verdana. (For those of you who aren’t typeface dorks, this is analogous in the design world to giving up your Christian Louboutins for a pair of Uggs.)
It’s more than just a font change – it’s an image change. IKEA, for better or worse, is known for sleek and simple design philosophy and their choice of font for the past 50 years consciously and unconsciously reflected that. (In fact, the company was so entwined with the font, that they had a proprietary version created for them – called Ikea Sans.)
Fast forward to now and IKEA decides to dump its customized Futura for the ungodly choice of Verdana. Verdana, a Microsoft-created font, is probably what you see when you read 85% of web sites out there – as it should be as this is why it was created in the first place – to be read on your computer monitor. It is not, however, a good typeface for print work, such as for oh, say – catalogs. Considering the IKEA catalog prints more copies than the Bible or Harry Potter each year, this seems a bit of a bonehead move. There is no elegance to this hideous font in print.
IKEA seems to be officially poo-pooing the contoversy, saying basically that no one outside the design industry cares about this issue. But, you don’t have to be in the design industry to unconsciously infer that a font is ugly or a design isn’t working, and ultimately this will reflect on the brand. It will be interesting to see if Verdana returns in 2011 – a number that looks great in Futura, by the way.
Oh, and Comic Sans is a fucking ugly-ass font that also happens to be from Microsoft. So ugly, in fact, that there is a group that wants to make it illegal to use.