Tuesday, September 1, 2009

please, no, don't change

So, hands up all who have received their new IKEA catalogue.
Have you looked through it?
Did you notice the changes that were made to the design of the catalogue?
Do you feel the "lack of warmth" in the new typeface?
Well, it seems many people have noticed and have gotten their knickers in quite a twist over it. There is even a petition going to have the font changed back from the 'new' Verdana to the 'old' Futura. Actually, it was IKEA's customized version of Futura, which they have used for almost 50 years and has been an "integral part of their branding".
So much outrage over a font. Though, mostly, it is from people who are really, really into fonts and typefaces and graphic design who feel it is "a sad day" and are "horrified" by this shift. You can read all about their anger and angst here. But be warned, there will be more details about the significance and intricacies of various fonts than most of you (I'm guessing, though I may be wrong) will ever care about. I actually found it interesting, even though I didn't understand a lot of the details. IKEA says they changed it to blend with the web so that their online catalogue will match their printed catalogue. They also say that most people won't even notice the change and are surprised at the backlash.

Which makes it seem like they are saying it isn't important. Design isn't important? For a company that prides itself on innovative design? That is now using what some consider the most basic (and inelegant, when writ large) font available. Ah, but it is a free font, provided by Microsoft. Except all signs must now be changed... so, the cheap change does not come so cheap.

On Aug. 26, a Romanian design consultant started an online petition to get Ikea to change its mind. There are already almost 4,000 signatures! To add yours go here.
Wikipedia even has a page (that may be deleted soon) about this called Verdanagate, as well as a page on the catalogue.

Now the real issue for the rest of us may be that they are possibly gearing up for an end to their printed catalogue, which would be a shame. It is the most printed publication, surpassing the Bible and Harry Potter. There was a time when I had saved every one for over 10 years. I think I got tired of packing them up every time I moved and eventually got rid of them. On a rainy Saturday afternoon with nothing better to do though, I did like to thumb through the old ones and reminisce...
see here for a museum collection IKEA catalogues.

The most interesting part of this story is that IKEA has been around for 58 years! FUTURA VERDANA COMIC SANS
Though this wit thinks it will not last much longer!
And on this site you can find a 1965 version of the catalogue.

Now, I think I'll head out for some strong Swedish coffee and a look at some Sultans, Leksviks, Erdslevs, and maybe some Färgkrik.
(P.S. this font is Trebuchet)


  1. I did notice it was different somehow, but honestly, I couldn't put my finger on it. And really, who cares, it's a catalogue for pete sake.

    Though obviously some people care. Those with too much time on their hands perhaps?

    It would be a shame if they stopped publication though. I loooove my Ikea catalogue. And I've been to Ikea many times because of something in the catalogue. Never, though, because of something on the website.

  2. I sometimes look in the catalogue, but just as often, if not more, I'm looking on the website for the latest information and to see if that item is available in the nearest store, otherwise all my longing and wishing is no good. I am not excited about the font, it doesn't move me one way or the other and I do understand why they would want to get rid of the catalogue. It must cost a small fortune to print and distribute it in every country to all of their customers. It's actually a bit of a waste of paper and trees or whatever the resource is. Don't fall all over me! The website is very handy!

  3. Interesting post. Personally just comparing the two, I like the Verdana. But people like what they are used to, and get insulted by change.

    I really don't care about the font. If I check out their catalogue it is to see the products, dimensions, and prices.

    P.S. I like your Trebuchet!

  4. I am reminded again that some people really need to get better hobbies. Spending all ones time pondering fonts is just possibly the sign you are one of those people. I have long thought that content should count for more than typeface.

  5. I always get a catalogue posted through the door although my nearest one is still a good drive away. But I'm not an online shopper either, so I'm not too fussed.

    I won't be signing any petitions, but I sometimes find myself fussing over font's when I'm editing pictures! Does the style suit the content, ect. You get so many choices but in this instance, I couldn't give a hoot either way!

  6. Jazz: I know many people who excitedly wait for the catalogue to appear (I am one). I cannot imagine getting 'excited' about an online website update to appear. I've actually never looked at their website.

    Irene: I sometimes have the catalogue with me and look through it while at their cafe to remind myself what I wanted to look for. Having it delivered to so many addresses is a waste, though. You used to request it which would cut down on the waste.

  7. I pay attention to fonts as I'm usually a san serif girl when it comes to business.

    You know, I've never had an Ikea catelog? I feel like I've missed the boat.

  8. Bonnie: I don't like the 9s in Verdana and I agree that it looks better in small print than poster sized. That small print is more of an issue for me than the font!
    Yes, if it hasn't in changed in 50 then most of us have never seen anything different, which is a shock.

    Bandobras: this was probably started by people whose careers are looking at typefaces and fonts and it grew from there to people who don't really know about it but "know what they like". I think the look of the typeface should match the product and it does influence you to some degree. it should stand out and be distinctive. Verdana is so not distinctive, whereas IKEA products scream that it is from IKEA.

  9. Lena: I rather liked the unfussy font they used before - the straighter lines looked very Swedish and suited their furniture styles. I live way too close to an IKEA store, but the love has waned over the years.

    Char: my dear, you have missed out! and yes, sans is best 90% of the time for business.

  10. I put my IKEA catalogue into the recycling bin without even opening it. Same with my Sears WishBook. So they can print the whole thing in Goudy Handtooled BT for all I care

  11. XUP: you dissident, you! my mother worked at Eaton's, so a Sears Wishbook was never a part of our Christmas tradition. I don't think I've ever had one.

  12. I am shocked, SHOCKED, I say!!! How dare they do this to their loyal customers!!! I shall never eat lutefisk again!!!

  13. Susan: that rat poison fish?? I've heard Garrison Keillor's description and that was enough for me!

  14. I am most surprized about the ones who want the change! I thought that Ikea's customers would be young (at heart) and hip - I guess I was wrong!
    As long as I can comfortably read it, any font is fine with me:)

  15. I've never eaten lutefisk in my life....LOL

  16. (and I believe it is Norwegian not Swedish)

  17. I don't get the catelogue, so I can't say it matters to me. Amd although I thin kdesign does have some importance, couldn't these people who are ptoesting put tht energy into environmental issues or feeding hungry people ot something?

  18. SAW: they might if the posters and leaflets and website were using the "wrong font" in their design headed opinion. I think they just have specific priorities. It also shows that so many peole will jump on any bandwagon, especially on the internet where you don't have to fully identify yourself.

  19. Jeannette: I think their point is that Verdana is not a "hip" font. It has been described as being the lowest common denominator and is so overused as to not be noticeable or original anymore.

  20. Good morning, Violet. I read about this crazed reaction to IKEA's font change and was totally baffled. When I think of all that might be fixed in this world if all THAT energy was brought to bare, perhaps a little corner of the world (at the least) would be improved. Still shaking my head 24 hours later as I read your post. Don't mean to offend others, but, I just don't get it.

    By the way, I enjoyed your reference to the verification word. Sometimes they really are apt, aren't they?

  21. I dont live near any Ikea stores so never see their catalogues.
    I found the story interesting though, since our son helped train someone who was involved in the catalogue's production.

  22. Annie: I know - I was baffled enough to look up all the references on it - thereby wasting more valuable time and energy. In the grand scheme of things, I don't really care either.

    Meg: that's only four degrees of separation! I live a 6 minute drive away - so if you come to visit it is on the tourist list of things to see.

  23. This was an interesting post because I'm a graphic artist. I don't like when publications change their fonts. I guess I'm "font sensitive" and have even clicked onto blogs and clicked back off because they were using an annoying font. When the TV show "Law & Order" first came out, it had been advertised very well and I was looking forward to the whole concept, but their credits font was a font I was using at the time on an irritating and tedious job and I was so turned off I never watched the show again.

  24. I quite like Palatino myself...

  25. Geewits: I have done the same with some blogs, and I have not bought some books knowing I'd never finish reading them because of the annoying font.

    Scott: I wish Blogger had a better selection of fonts. I am intrigued by Tunga - would have no idea what to do with it, but it sure is pretty.

  26. I did notice it was different overall, but it was the photos that struck me most. They somehow manage to convey less detail, so that you don't home in on the product you're interested in, but just see an overall 'look'. I found it quite offputting.

    So glad to hear that someone else kept the catalogues. We have them going back over 10 years. To what end I don't know. Another sad fact - my husband is one of the very few non-Swedes who can understand any of the remaindered Swedish novels etc that IKEA puts decoratively on its Billy etc. He is also wedded to Ivar, to the extent that I sometimes feel like petitioning for divorce.

  27. It is almost impossible to get an IKEA catalog here it seems...even the closest store doesn't like to hand them out...needless to say I am not familiar with them but doubt if I would have noticed any change in the font that seems to me rather subtle...

    When I first read about this in the news all I could think was...some people have too much time on their hands...and why aren't they using it to create some good in this world...

  28. Linda: Yes, the page photo layouts - that was a far worse change. That was when I stopped collecting them.

    Oliag: how odd. yet here, in my city where we actually have a local IKEA, plus three others within about a half hours drive (where you could easily pick one up if you desired) they are sent out to every household.


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