Thursday, September 03, 2009
On an introductory page of IKEA's new 2010 catalog it says,
"We're constantly striving to cut costs without compromising quality."
Well, they got the first part right.
The typo-religious fervor over IKEA's recent design change from their customized variant of Futura to Microsoft's ubiquitous Verdana is gaining momentum. As a big fan of both IKEA and Futura I was dismayed at the news. Who'd have thought we'd lose IKEA to the typographically mediocre. After all, this is IKEA, they're part of the good fight, striving to bring good design into our lives for over 60 years.
A friend, who does translation work for a company in Asia, had a practical perspective on the switch. Like the TIME article below, he cited the flexibility of fonts like Verdana with regards to foreign language translation. The option to easily convert Verdana for the multitude of other countries IKEA services is a cost-saver no doubt about it.
Like many other critics of the switch I would counter that Verdana was specifically designed for use online. Why didn't IKEA just switch to Verdana online and keep the typographically superior Futura for their print applications? I shudder at the thought of hovering Verdana-emblazoned billboards and bus stop ads. If the varying details of other languages and alphabets is an issue for IKEA, could they not commission of custom typeface to include such details? I'm also forced to wonder what the long-term cost of replacing their signage and other printed materials will be, assuming they make across-the-board updates.
It's tough, I get it. We have a faltering economy across the globe and no one is immune, not even IKEA. Any cost savings is worthy of consideration. Still, IKEA is a design focussed company. Good design has always been one of, if not chief among, their primary goals. It's hard to see them compromise something so central to their identity and brand.
Additional Info + Reading
IKEA Petition - Click here
TIME Article - Click here
Daring Fireball posted some good stuff as well. - Click here