Fontroversy: Ikea typografisk

[Alyson Kuhn] Ikea is in the news. I first heard about this last Saturday, on Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me, the NPR news show. Host Peter Sagal asks panelist Mo Rocca what recent change has Ikea customers up in arms, and Mo begins fishing, Not their logo… not their color scheme… and Peter says, It has to do with their catalogs. Mo tries, You’re going to have to put it together yourself without instructions?

Peter hints, Customers are saying “What the Helvetica!” So, Mo correctly guesses that Ikea has changed its font, and Peter amplifies, from the Futura font we all know and love, to the cheap, trashy, arriviste font Verdana. The repartee gets even better, and you can listen for yourself, thanks to NPR’s truly superb Media Player.

Later Saturday afternoon, I opened a day-old e-blast from my long-time correspondent Warren Wilkins, with a link to an in-depth article from the Guardian in the UK, about the change. I thought the whole piece was terrific, from title, to lead, to the very last line. And we note that author (and stamp collector) Simon Garfield has a book about type design coming out next year (in the near futura).

Then, I wanted to see what Allan Haley thinks of the change. He is the Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Turns out he had already been interviewed for an excellent piece in BusinessWeek. I wonder whether Ikea will make an official statement. Weight, weight, don’t tell me!

Photos:  IKEA store, Peter Morrison/AP; IKEA catalogs, Brandacadabra

Alyson Kuhn, the editor of Felt & Wire, was über tempted to title this post Ikea typsnitt, inspired by this excellent list on the Encyclopedia of Typography site.

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