Monday, August 31, 2009

Change It Back, IKEA.

The Verdana-Futura beat down is a big deal. Whodathunk it.

I’m a big Futura fan. Like Futura a lot of my work is based on classical proportions and is geometric. Futura conveys sophistication with simplicity which makes it a perfect choice for IKEA. Verdana used to be one of my favorites…when I was a sophomore in college. I liked it because I didn’t know any better. Like many of Matthew Carter’s well known typefaces, Verdana is designed to solve the technical problem of rendering fonts onscreen, not to convey artistic beauty.

There were rumors that IKEA chose Verdana because they wanted a unified graphic identity across all markets. I’ve seen conflicting information on this. If true, it is the only legitimate reason to use Verdana. However:

In Israel, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Thailand for the languages Hebrew, Arabic and Thai, Tahoma is the approved substitute font. JhengHei, a Chinese sans-serif is the substitute font for Traditional Chinese in Taiwan and Hong Kong. YaHei will be substituted for Verdana in mainland China for Simplified Chinese. The Japanese sans-serif, Meiryo is being used in Japan and the Okinawan Islands while Malgun Gothic will be used in North Korea and South Korea. The Tamil language in India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia and Mauritius will be displayed using Latha. Source

Second reason cited was cost effectiveness. If everyone switched to the most cost effective font on earth everything would be in Arial. Does IKEA really care about design? Apparently not. They have decided to be the Wal-Mart of the furniture world instead.

Verdana will be gone as soon as we get screens with higher resolutions. Renner wasn’t trying to solve a communications problem, he was creating a piece of art. Futura has stood the test of time, and has been used for different applications generation after generation. In 2123, we will still have Futura advertising space vacations and floating condominiums off the coast of Madagascar. Or everything will be in Arial. Your choice: Sign the petition.

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