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IKEA releases Soffa Sans, a typeface made of couches

Furniture retailer IKEA has released a free typeface inspired by the creativity of customers using its sofa planning tool. Each letter of the typeface, named Soffa Sans, is formed from various sofa pieces that are available in the online tool. Unlike the several other high-profile companies that have commissioned their own typefaces in recent years, IKEA has not done this for branding purposes, but rather for fun.

Soffa Sans features
An outline of the features of Soffa Sans

IKEA launched the CAD sofa planner a few months ago to help shoppers plan the right sofa for their room and needs. You can choose from different styles and colours, and build your ideal configuration in a 3D isometric view, while seeing a running total of the cost. Evidently, the company hadn’t put a limit on the size or price of the sofas that people could create with the tool. This led to people creating absurd designs and sharing them on Twitter.

IKEA noticed, and decided to join in the fun by asking Proximity London to design a typeface using the online tool. Soffa Sans uses modules from the VALLENTUNA sofa series and is available in two versions – isometric and bird’s-eye view. The name is a misappropriation of typographic nomenclature; strictly speaking, Soffa Sans is not a pure sans-serif typeface as the characters I and J feature serif-like protrusions. It could instead be considered a stylised pixel font due to its blocky, grid-based design.

Character configurations in Hillared Dark Grey
Character configurations in Hillared Dark Grey

The character set consists only of uppercase letters of the standard English alphabet, digits 0 through 9, an exclamation mark and a question mark. As such, its utility as a typeface is extremely limited. In fact, the characters are not even vector-based; each is merely an image snipped directly from the online tool. What is useful is the document that is included in the font download package. It assigns each of the available character designs a unique code that can load the respective sofa configuration into the online tool for purchase. If you’re wondering, building all of the characters in the typeface would cost about AU$180,000 in real life.

Download the fonts here.