Fans of fonts are in a frenzy over what they have dubbed "Verdanagate" -- Swedish DIY furniture company IKEA's switch typeface from iconic Futura to the more web-friendly Verdana. A publisher and designer weigh in.
Publisher and editor of The Enthusiast Mel Campbell writes:
So design nerds everywhere have been shaking in their black skivvies and steaming up their retro spectacles with rage over the 2010 IKEA catalogue switching typefaces from Futura to Verdana -- the Swedish furniture behemoth’s first such overhaul in 50 years.
"I don't think the broad public is that interested," shrugged IKEA spokeswoman Camilla Meiby
. Nor is Wikipedia, whose editing community wants to delete the page entitled Verdanagate
, claiming it is "non-notable, non-event and the title is utterly ridiculous".
The thing is, though, that type nerds really, really love type.* They hoard examples, develop irrational hatreds of some fonts and love the detective work of identifying others. It gives them existential pain to see typefaces misused -- especially by companies that claim to care about design.
Type designers Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones have filled a small room with their collection of type specimen books and printed ephemera dating back to the 18th century. The pair based their famous typeface Gotham
on old New York industrial signage:
This evocation of working America went on to be Barack Obama’s presidential campaign font
is a similar project by Elizabeth Carey Smith, who found and photographed intriguing signage fragments on the street. She then retroactively designed the typeface that could have produced them.
One of the world’s most ubiquitous fonts is one of the most controversial. You may remember Helvetica
, Gary Hustwit’s 2007 documentary film, or Lars Müller’s adulatory book Helvetica: Homage To A Typeface
. The Swiss font inspires praise from designers who find it refreshingly simple and neutral and scorn from those who find it mind-numbingly bland and boring: