IKEA Uses Quirky Pictograms To Add Humor To Headquarter Signage


Designer Viktor Hertz created bright yellow pictograms for IKEA's headquarters, signaling office rooms in a humorous way.

Daniela Walker
  • 28 may 2014

Viktor Hertz was enlisted by furniture giant IKEA to create pictograms for their headquarters in Shanghai and Sweden. The result is a series of little yellow men and women that are rather atypical of usual pictogram signage.

While pictograms are a visual language where subtlety isn’t expected, Hertz made images that were both obvious in their meaning and subtle in their humor. Hertz was first asked to do the signage for the Shanghai headquarters, and then was asked back to do recycling pictograms for the HQ in Älmhult. He spoke to PSFK about the project:

It was a great and fun balance between a sober and straight approach, and a bit of wit and clever and funny ways to combine different things- one example is the cell-phone booth, where I put a man inside a box, which also was in the shape of a mobile.It was a great experience, and very interesting to see how far we could take things, without making them totally cryptic and hard to understand.

There are typical signs people are used to seeing such as man and woman, but then for the bathrooms both characters have their legs crossed in desperation to get to the toilet. For the recycling images, Hertz create drawings of newspapers and batteries, but then made other pictograms that are very uniquely IKEA. There’s the polystyrene foam – used in packing – and the mixed wood bin, for all those offcuts of flatpack pieces of furniture that made the company a household name globally.

The bright yellow color and specific pictograms demonstrate the work culture of the brand. There is a pictogram for ping pong, for the ping pong room, and then one of a woman holding a baby for the mother room. There is even a ‘chat room’, shown by two stick figures having a conversation, of course.

Hertz enlivened a usual stale genre of graphic design and imbued it with IKEA’s brand philosophy. He says:

I never felt any specific limitations, design wise. It is, of course, a matter of environment and circumstances. When [the pictograms] shown in that familiar yellow color, and placed at an IKEA office or store, I think they blend in quite well.

Viktor Hertz

[h/t] DesignTAXI


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