Here at ICM we’re very loyal to the typefaces we use as part of our brand. Foundry is the main face for all primary communications with the slab-serif of Clarendon being used for our more ‘vocal’ communications.
I was pretty shocked when I noticed recently that Ikea was to drop their trademark typeface Futura in favour of Verdana, a fairly nondescript system font.
I personally feel this is a bad move. Merely typing the word SMEG, BILLY or CLOP in Futura instantly conjours up images of flatpack shelving. Verdana can’t hold it’s own at the cutting edge of interior style, something Futura did with ease.
It seems I’m not the only one. To-date, nearly 1000 Facebook users also agree – they’ve even set up a petition asking Ikea to change it back.
Ikea certainly don’t ‘own’ Futura. In fact they made some very tiny adjustments and named it IkeaSans. Catchy. So why the move after 66 years of business? Has the new-media age brought then to this on-screen-font conclusion? Maybe.
Futura is the most renowned work of German designer Paul Renner. It still looks modern 82 years after its release. Verdana was designed in 1993 by Matthew Carter, a Brit who is regarded as one of the most elegant type designers in the world. Taking years to perfect, Verdana is a typeface that was designed simply to look good on a computer screen. It is clear; it works well in many languages; it is unambiguous even at small point sizes.
That’s why I feel Ikea have made a mistake. their official reasoning is that it is more efficient and cost-effective. Anyone with an eye for good design will think the move to Verdana makes Ikea look a little cheap.
But who am I to judge? I’ve set up a little poll via Twitter for users to vote on the preferred:
Times New Roman is a serif typeface commissioned by the British newspaper, The Times, in 1931, designed by Stanley Morison and Victor Lardent at the English branch of Monotype. It was commissioned after Morison had written an article criticizing The Times for being badly printed and typographically behind the times. The font was supervised by Stanley Morison and drawn by Victor Lardent, an artist from the advertising department of The Times. Morison used an older font named Plantin as the basis for his design, but made revisions for legibility and economy of space. As the old type used by the newspaper had been called Times Old Roman, Morison’s revision became Times New Roman and made its debut in the 3 October 1932 issue of The Times newspaper. After one year, the design was released for commercial sale. The Times stayed with Times New Roman for 40 years, but new production techniques and the format change from broadsheet to tabloid in 2004 have caused the newspaper to switch font five times since 1972. However, all the new fonts have been variants of the original New Roman font.
Well that tells us the background – The good old Times Newspaper brought it out and thats what happened for the next 40 years.
But why is it still around? Why do we keep seeing it all over the place?
Two of the most famous fonts in the world are Times and Helvetica, they are the double act of the font world. The Jets and The Sharks, battling for superiority. Times with its classic lines and distinctive Serif edges – and its modern arch-rival, Helvetica, with its Sans Serif, clean swiss styling. They sit in the font list and sneer at each other.
Technology has had a lot to do with the rollercoaster ride of Times. Microsoft helped Times survive the onset of Desktop Publishing by having the font as the default for many of its core products on both PC and Mac. When you start a letter in Microsoft Word, most people will not pay attention to the font and Times tends to be there – so to the first time user, Times is THE letter writing font. The web in general tends to favor Helvetica and other Sans Serif faces. It has been a long battle for Times – seventy eight years. Only time will tell if it has the strength of character to fight off the Sans Serif onslaught.
I am sure that the Times Newspaper will continue to use its flagship font in some form or another in their publications for many years to come. But how will it survive in the rest of the design world? Will it still be used in books, posters, websites? I am willing to bet that it will. Fonts and typefaces have their own cycle – some are the font of the season, websites and advertising agencies react and adapt to the style of the moment. Times (and its arch-rival Helvetica) are the two giants, the big Chief in the Serif/Sans Serif Tribes.
It has stood the test of time through some of the harshest changes in design. Even at seventy eight years old, I would stay off its lawn . . . Times are NOT changing.