concept to publication

Ikea replaces Futura with Verdana

Ikea has used the geometric bauhausesque Futura (left above), designed by Paul Renner around 1925, as its signature font for some fifty years. It’s a font that emphasizes the Platonic essence of letterforms in an interesting way but provides little forward momentum, so to speak, for extended reading.

Verdana (designed by Matthew Carter around the late 1990s, I think; at right above) is a more “humanist” (the letterforms to some degree evoke traditional Renaissance pen letterforms) font that was designed for use at small sizes on computer monitors. To this end it has a large x-height, large counters (openings), broad character widths, and other features that help to identify letters and tell similar ones apart at small sizes.

A lot of typeheads are distressed by Ikea’s decision, largely because Ikea is using Verdana as a display face, a function for which it wasn’t really intended.

Well, true, it doesn’t look as good, so why are they making the change? I think it’s because people under a certain age find Verdana comfortable and familiar because they see it all the time on their computer monitors. So it might feel friendlier to the children of the computer age than a stick-and-ball face from the 1920s.

It’s also possible that in the long run Ikea is intending to phase out its print catalogue and go online only. A big virtue of Verdana online is that it resides on practically everyone’s computer, so you don’t have to worry about font substitutions.

My guess is that few people outside the type world will notice or care about the change. How do you feel about it?


Update, 9/04: Dueling petitions


image via fontblog



Pop quiz: 10 word sources


Will Powers (1946-2009) and “The Printer’s Error”


  1. That’s rather interesting what different fonts convey.

  2. Interesting point of view; I happen to like Verdana because it is so clean and uncluttered. But why not use it for a display font? Is there some “bible” of font use with the equivalent of 10 commandments for the “thou shall and thou shall not?”

Some rights reserved 2022 Right Reading. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons (attribution, noncommercial, no derivs: 3.0) License (US), although some of the work this blog incorporates may be separately licensed. Text and images by Thomas Christensen unless otherwise noted. For print permissions or other inquiries please request via