The graphic design world and typography-lovers everywhere were miffed last week over IKEA’s switch from Futura to Verdana.
IKEA abandons ~50 years of Futura and Century Schoolbook for Verdana. In an interview with Swedish design magazine CAP&DESIGN (translation here) the reason for the change is to be able to use the same font in all countries, including Asian countries. Also they want to be able to give the same visual impression both in print and the web.
I’ve had mixed feelings about Verdana, a typeface commissioned by Microsoft in 1996 with a focus on-screen readability. While it’s not the most graceful font, I do have a fondness and familiarity for it. There was an entire period of time when most of my favorite blogs (eg. Dooce, Caterina) were using Verdana 10px or 11px. I used it on my early sites for body text. At a small screen size, it is undeniably readable and the roundness gave it a friendly personality.
I’ll let others describe the negative reaction to the news. What I find interesting is that IKEA chose a web font over a print typeface. Perhaps their choice was merely to say, design can be for everyone. Choosing such a ubiquitous font merely reflects that.