Ikea, the long-standing pillar of minimalist style and European design savvy, has abandoned Futura, the typeface used for decades in favour of Verdana. The choice to change typefaces is somewhat unexpected, but choosing Verdana, generally considered a web font, is truly puzzling. Ikea have used Futura, and later their own variant, Ikea Sans, for a long time. At least since 1965, seen in these images from a vintage catalogue.
The reason for such a change is understandable, but ultimately lame. Like I said, Verdana is an on-screen font, and since the web is super-important these days, sources say the move will unify the materials. But at the same time, they acknowledge that the Ikea catalogue is the third most printed publication around the globe, trailing The Bible, and the Harry Potter books. (major skepticism for this statistic, by the way. I mean, don’t most people already have Bibles? It’s not like they need new editions.) If there is still so much weight behind the print endeavor, which abandon the standards for a web-print compromise.
Previous catalogue using Futura
Present catalogue using Verdana
And, hello people, Helvetica also works in print and on the web. Why not go with Helvetica? (And having just visited the site, it seems they are using Helvetica for all but the big goofy animations. Now I’m confused.)
I hate to be a type snob in this matter, but as usual, I’m look at things from a branding point of view. Because Ikea has so much brand equity in their catalogue, and because their catalogue makes such use of bold, undecorated type, the change has far-reaching impact on the face of the brand. Also, Ikea is seen around the world as a Swedish national brand. They used to embody Scandinavian design within reach. Do they still?