Verdana: Font War


When the residential blocks in Funenpark went on sale they were assigned a font name: Bodoni, Melior, Syntax, Cecilia, Plantin. What used to be called Blok K was re-named Verdana. Until now it is not completely clear who decided on these names. And why. But since Verdana seems to originate from Verdant which means “something green”, it might be an appropriate choice.

After 50 years IKEA changed typeface. Among graphic designers this caused what Time labeled a Font War. Previously IKEA used Futura for their products and Century Schoolbook for descriptions. Now the first catalogue (of which 200 million copies have been brought into circulation!) is published with the new font: Verdana.

Verdana is a “humanist sans-serif” typeface. It was designed by Microsoft and was intended to be readable at small sizes on a computer screen. The lack of serifs, large x-height (heights of lower-case letters, as scaled to the letter x being exactly equal to one), wide proportions, loose letter-spacing, large counters (spaces inside partially enclosed portions of letters or symbols such as c, s, or curved quotation marks), and emphasized distinctions between similarly-shaped characters are chosen to increase legibility. (Wiki P)

IKEA decided to use one single font for both web-use and print. Since the typeface was meant to be used on a screen, not on paper, designers are offended. “It’s like building a skyscraper with LEGO”.

Some claim that Verdana cannot exist outside the virtual world. Is this a parallel with these 10 houses? Blok K remained a virtual project for a decade. Will it survive in the real world?

One Response to “Verdana: Font War”

  1. Architectenbureaus met een weblog - Aureon architectuur weblog Says:

    […] Architects blogt ook over de interessante dingen die ze tegenkomen. Bijvoorbeeld over het lettertype Verdana, wat uit de virtuele wereld in de werkelijkheid werd geplaatst. Of dat verschillende duurzame […]

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