Sweden has a national typeface


sweden sans g

A detail of the letter ‘g.’
Courtesy of Soderhavet via the NPR website.

This Sunday I heard a story on NPR’s Weekend Edition about Sweden Sans, a newly designed national typeface for Sweden—thec country—by the offices of Soderhavet. Towards the end of the segment, Ari Shapiro notes:

Some people might argue that Sweden already has an unofficial typeface — Ikea is a massive Swedish brand with global reach and its own lettering style.

And frankly, Sweden Sans doesn’t look hugely different from something you’d see in an Ikea catalog.

Coincidentally, my advanced interactive media design students are reading an old (by web standards) article on Design Observer, Is There Bauhaus in Ikea?, which makes a comparison between the consumer experience in an Ikea store and the properties definitive of Bauhaus design. In short, there is Bauhaus in Ikea’s visual communication but not so much in a user’s experience at the Ikea store.

As I was still waking up while catching the story of Sweden Sans I half-dreamt of a typeface that reacts to the inevitable fissure between the ideal messages that are branded and the less than ideal experiences that humans have with branded items (or countries). Imagine Helvetica with a little more personality as the “ideal” typeface, then imagine it being dragged through the wet part of the sand at the sea by David Carson, that’s the version of the typeface that meets actual user experiences.

helvetica pins

Inspired by the pins I saved from my Helvetica (the movie) viewing: I wonder how long it will take before “I love” and “I hate” Sweden Sans pins are available. When they are, I will definitely be purchasing my set at Ikea.

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