TYPE DESIGN INFORMATION PAGE last updated on Sun Oct 22 17:16:52 EDT 2017

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LUC DEVROYE


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Ikea: The flap

In 2009 Ikea, which had been using Ikea Sans and Ikea Serif, switched to Verdana for its signs. Freely distributed by Microsoft, the typeface allows Ikea to use the same font in all countries and with many alphabets. An Ikea spokesperson adds: It's more efficient and cost-effective. Plus, it's a simple, modern-looking typeface. But the verdict by typographers is unanimous---this is a bad choice. One person even started a wiki page called Verdanagate. Excerpts from their reactions:

  • Carolyn Fraser (a letterpress printer in Melbourne, Australia): Verdana was designed for the limitations of the Web - it's dumbed down and overused. It's a bit like using Lego to build a skyscraper, when steel is clearly a superior choice.
  • Simon l'Anson (creative director at Made by Many, London): It has open, wide letterforms with lots of space between characters to aid legibility at small sizes on screen. It doesn't exhibit any elegance or visual rhythm when set at large sizes. It's like taking the family sedan off-road. It will sort of work, but ultimately gets bogged down.
  • Lise Abend (Time Magazine): The main complaint that online protesters have, though, is that the newly adopted font is plain ugly. Especially when it's enlarged to, say, the size of a catalogue headline. Or worse yet, a billboard.

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Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html