It's not Ikea Sans—Sweden's new national typeface
February 21, 2015 9:02 AM   Subscribe

Stockholm-based design firm Söderhavet has designed a typeface for Sweden that it thinks sums up the country's own design heritage. The resulting typeface is a practical serif/sans hybrid that is inspired by Sweden's tradition of minimalist design, and the principal of lagom—not too much, but not too little.
posted by polywomp (55 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's very clean, much like downtown Stockholm.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:11 AM on February 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


About time we got a new Helvetica.
posted by Nelson at 9:14 AM on February 21, 2015


I am jealous of their brand guidelines. Also really curious to see how many ligatures they included in Sweden Sans.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:15 AM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


About time we got a new Helvetica.

his just continues the long history of confusion between Sweden and Switzerland.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:16 AM on February 21, 2015 [15 favorites]


> About time we got a new Helvetica.

Sverigica
posted by ardgedee at 9:16 AM on February 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's not Ikea Sans

It really kinda is.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:19 AM on February 21, 2015 [10 favorites]


Jättekul!
posted by bigendian at 9:19 AM on February 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


And, I dunno... This particular font seems a little too much like a cross between a monospace sans like Consolas and a stencil font with the gaps filled in -- the combination of line weight and proportion (and serifs only being used on single-stroke letters like the lowercase l and i) makes it look predestined to be used for two things: Progressive/edgy youth-oriented marketing materials for music and fashion, and for labelling shipping crates full of heavy industry products.
posted by ardgedee at 9:21 AM on February 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


If the USA had a typeface it would be Comic Sans Bold.
posted by cccorlew at 9:23 AM on February 21, 2015 [31 favorites]


I don't like it. The Q and W are all weird (which I would attribute to the fact that Svenska doesn't use those letters much, except that the Å is also weird), and that I with the serifs doesn't look good in blocks of caps.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:24 AM on February 21, 2015


I can't quite put my finger on it, but even if I saw this context-free I suspect I'd think "This is Scandinavian."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:24 AM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Something's off. That 'W' is not balanced, for a start. Imperfections like that are not my outsider's idea of Scandinavia.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 9:30 AM on February 21, 2015


If the USA had a typeface it would be Comic Sans Bold.

During the Bush years, we had the typeface we deserved.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 9:32 AM on February 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


This looks very similar to Roboto.
posted by humanfont at 9:34 AM on February 21, 2015


I love Roboto. I design documents all day, but since we use Word we have to use Arial/Times New Roman for everything to preserve compatibility. I would love to be able to change things up a bit and use something new. IMO a lot of sans serif typefaces draw too heavily from Helvetica, so it's nice to see something different.

Also, perhaps due to my job, I've developed an irrational loathing of serif typefaces. The serifs used here don't trigger that reaction.
posted by polywomp at 9:40 AM on February 21, 2015


I am only a typeface enthusiast, but I gotta say that I'm not in love-- but there's a lot of interesting stuff:

1. The Q and W are super odd. The Q I'll accept as a "font branding" item, especially since it isn't used much in Swedish... but the W just feels so out of place.

2. The circle over the A in Å is so small seems very strange-- it looks more like a filled dot over the capital A.

3. The @ sign is almost subscript? That's an interesting concept-- it causes Internet-age addresses to have a... special look.

4. Is the zero ONLY a slashed zero? As a programmer, I guess I like it?
posted by gregvr at 10:15 AM on February 21, 2015


I love it.

And I'm calling it Ikea Sans anyways.
posted by sidereal at 10:54 AM on February 21, 2015


Why is there no "4"?
posted by benito.strauss at 10:54 AM on February 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh, wait, I see. They threw a few extra "1"s, "2"s, and "3"s in there, along with a "+" sign. I guess you're supposed to make your "4" out of those.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:58 AM on February 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


It's not really possible to evaluate this font without the appropriate text:
Wi nøt trei a høliday in Sweden this yër ?
See the løveli lakes
The wøndërful telephøne system
And mäni interesting furry animals
Including the majestik møøse

A Møøse once bit my sister...

No realli! She was Karving her initials øn the møøse with the sharpened end of an interspace tøøthbrush given her by Svenge - her brother-in-law -an Oslo dentist and star of many Norwegian møvies: "The Høt Hands of an Oslo Dentist", "Fillings of Passion", "The Huge Mølars of Horst Nordfink"...

Mynd you, møøse bites Kan be pretty nasti...
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:07 AM on February 21, 2015 [12 favorites]


You can see the 4 in the color codes near the top of the page, but yeah, that's weird that there's no 4 in example image.
posted by Redfield at 11:07 AM on February 21, 2015


The kerning is off.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:11 AM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it is really bothering me. I just want to...fix it.
posted by polywomp at 11:14 AM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's not really possible to evaluate this font without the appropriate text:

Except that Swedish is the one Scandinavian language without an ø; they use the ö instead.

Sometimes the first clue that a sentence is in Danish or Norwegian rather than Swedish, to a novice not yet attuned to variations in spelling, is hitting the first ø six words in.
posted by acb at 11:44 AM on February 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


I came here to say the font is OK, but the W is just wrong. Glad to know I'm not the only one.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:48 AM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


As a type nerd, I really dön't like it. ardgedee is right on track with my reactions. The monospacedness is very human-unfriendly and evokes blueprints of industrial processes. The period in which that was considered edgy and fresh was years ago now and was my least favorite in the history of type design. Sörry Sweden... It won't be luring me to see your interesting furry animals.
posted by namasaya at 12:13 PM on February 21, 2015


On a blue background Sweden Sans is best used in yellow.

Maybe it's genetic? but I have no problem with the w.

The lack of "4" is clearly down to the fact that all Swedes are Chinese, and "4" is an unlucky number.
posted by allthinky at 12:15 PM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


You can see the 4 in the color codes near the top of the page, but yeah, that's weird that there's no 4 in example image.

No, the "4" in the color codes is Zurich BT Roman. There is no Sweden Sans 4. But these guys are typographers, not mathematicians.
posted by fredludd at 12:25 PM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty certain that the 4 was left out to make it harder for randoms to steal the font before they've had a chance to sell it themselves. The sample sheet is also missing lowercase in all variations, proportionally-spaced numbers, symbols like ™, ₩, “, ’, ', `, and maybe some alpha diacriticals.
posted by ardgedee at 12:50 PM on February 21, 2015


Why is there no "4"?

It's a case of 4 give and 4 get, I suppose.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:56 PM on February 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Is the zero ONLY a slashed zero?

Yo that is how we roll in Europe. Why the seven does not have a horizontal slash through the middle, I don't know.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:47 PM on February 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't know about that, they make it available for download here.
posted by polywomp at 1:49 PM on February 21, 2015


Maybe this will make IKEA rethink the Verdana decision.
posted by frumiousb at 1:52 PM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


If the USA Knatte, Fnatte och Tjatte had a typeface it would be Comic Sans Bold. This is fully explained in the Junior Murmeldjur Handbok. (As is everything else.)
posted by jfuller at 2:13 PM on February 21, 2015


> they make it available for download here.

Okay, checked and... looks reasonably complete. Got me, then. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by ardgedee at 3:28 PM on February 21, 2015


> It's a case of 4 give and 4 get, I suppose.

Well, I was going to say that it was an obvious case of inte fyra-ence, but I think the correct Swedish is actually ingen fyra, so I guess we got off lucky this time.
posted by benito.strauss at 3:47 PM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is mostly making me wonder what is the prototypical font for other countries?
posted by Lanark at 4:31 PM on February 21, 2015


England = Gill Sans
posted by stanf at 4:46 PM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


> This is mostly making me wonder what is the prototypical font for other countries?


Yep, in the UK it's a mix of Gill sans and Johnston (because of it's use on the London Underground) and in the US it's quickly becoming Gotham, at least on the east coast.

All of which have certain letters that make them quirky or odd or memorable, by the way. So I don't see why having a few "weird" characters like the W is necessarily a reason to dislike the texture of the typeface as a whole.

Personally I think it has a lot of potential, but the personality of type doesn't tend to show itself until after designers start using it for things. These guidelines have a couple examples of the face in use, Some of which I think are quite successful (all caps with generous tracking looks great, imo) and others not so much (The small title-case "Sweden" next to the flag in the logo looks super uncomfortable and creates a weird tension between the tightness of the letters and the wide space between the baselines).

What I can't figure out is what kind of license is the font being released under? Can I use this on commercial projects? I would love to start seeing this in the wild.
posted by tuck_nroll at 5:02 PM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I knew something was different when I drove past the entrance logo of Gothia towers the other day. Somehow, they always manage to make stuff even more boring around here.
posted by Namlit at 5:05 PM on February 21, 2015


The small title-case "Sweden" next to the flag in the logo looks super uncomfortable and creates a weird tension between the tightness of the letters and the wide space between the baselines

And the dot on the 'i' almost seems higher than the initial 'S', and the bowl on the 'g' seems unreasonably big. It's not a bad font, but 'Sverige' doesn't look pretty in it, at least to me.
posted by thegears at 6:37 PM on February 21, 2015


This font reads slow.

On the plus side, I just discovered the Document Font Toggle extension for firefox that turns on and off a webpage's ability to force the use of its own fonts.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:08 PM on February 21, 2015


benito.strauss: "Why is there no "4"?"

polywomp: "...lagom—not too much, but not too little."

Only a boastful typeface shows off by having all the numbers.
posted by double block and bleed at 9:32 PM on February 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Canada = Baskerville
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:08 PM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


My coworkers and I have been feeling the need for a 'cleaner', minimalist typeface for a while now, but not strongly enough to actually learn about typography. Love this one to death, exactly what we were looking for. On the downside, am now lost in an endless rabbit-hole of links, articles, textbook excerpts and the theory of type.

You did this to me, polywomp.
posted by The Zeroth Law at 11:54 PM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I just wish I knew when I was allowed to use that font. Can’t find any specific licence or terms of use.
posted by Martijn at 2:33 AM on February 22, 2015


All that yellow and blue, and its OCR-B look, is putting me in an Amstrad CPC place.

(The CPC's default screen colours were yellow on blue, and the manual's examples were all set in OCR-B. I'm still disappointed when code isn't written in that font.)
posted by scruss at 5:06 AM on February 22, 2015


What are people finding weird about the W? That it does not reach full height in the middle? But that's not all that uncommon. Or is it something else that I'm not seeing?
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:20 AM on February 22, 2015


IMO, given that the font has such a monospace feel, I think that the W is a little too wide. The fact that it's short in the middle is OK, but I think it would look better full height. Also, the apex of the join in the middle is visually a little heavy; a very slight taper would probably help.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:25 AM on February 22, 2015


Looking at the whole page, the W actually looks better when the kerning is wide.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:27 AM on February 22, 2015


Yep, in the UK it's a mix of Gill sans and Johnston (because of it's use on the London Underground) and in the US it's quickly becoming Gotham, at least on the east coast.

Not Clarendon, or (for comedic effect) Cooper Black?

And Gill Sans was strongly influenced by Johnston, so the two are more like one and a half distinct typefaces at most.

Also, would Germany be Erik Spiekermann's Meta?
posted by acb at 6:35 AM on February 22, 2015


Canada = Baskerville

The official logo is fairly heavily modified Baskerville, yes. But as far as I'm concerned, the only font that really screams Canada (esp. c. 1967-????) is Optima.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:36 AM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's a nice font, I think. It's clean, both humble and smug, in a way, and maybe just a bit bureaucratic. All qualities that suit a country like Sweden just fine. I would have preferred a proper o instead of just a dot on the å though, because that's where the letter comes from: an a pronounced as an o.

On the topic of Swedish typefaces: I enjoy the Stockholm one as well. Every time the municipality has something to communicate with its citizens, which is often, ("Walk your child to school!", "Swim more often!", "Don't forget to have your winter tires removed!", "Pick up after your dog!") I see billboards and posters all over town with this typeface on it. The ä and ö having lines instead of dots make me smile, because that's how many people (including me) write those letters anyway.
posted by Caconym at 8:56 AM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Canada = Baskerville

… the only font that really screams Canada (esp. c. 1967-????) is Optima.


You're both right.
I think of Baskerville as the default typeface of Canada, and Optima is for when we want to get crazy. I mean really crazy.
posted by Kabanos at 11:14 AM on February 23, 2015


Montreal = Univers
posted by a lungful of dragon at 2:06 PM on February 23, 2015


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