Fantastic Furniture is an Australian-owned and -operated furniture retailer operating under Fantastic Holdings Limited (FHL), Australia’s largest vertically integrated furniture group. It started as a market stall at Sydney’s Parklea Markets in 1989, by friends Paul Harding and Jonathan De Jong, selling outdoor furniture. Two years later, the first Fantastic Furniture store opened at Birkenhead Point, New South Wales. Today, there are 78 Fantastic Furniture stores across Australia. Its products comprise sofas, chairs, dining products, entertainment products, bedroom products, occasional products, storage products, home office furniture, cushions, mattresses, pillows and lamps. (Wikipedia)

Old Fantastic Furniture logo

Old Fantastic Furniture logo

The old logo was rather bad. The letters didn’t flow harmoniously and they were each drawn with odd angles and perspectives. I say drawn because I reckon the logo originated from some handwritten signage back in the day, something that had been knocked up with a chisel-tip marker while the business was still a stall at Parklea Markets. (Its handwritten nature was also betrayed by the differing shapes of the two As and two Ts.)

To its credit, the old logo was one of the most recognisable in Australian retail – if only because it had remained unchanged for over 20 years – and it represented the place to buy dirt cheap furniture. However, as trends in furniture design have evolved, it was starting to impose a dated aesthetic to the stores and becoming an injustice to the updated styles of its products. Personally, I admired that the company – one with humble Australian origins – kept its logo for so long, but it was time for it to go.

The new logo has been designed from the ground up, bearing no resemblance to its predecessor. It features an icon in the form of an armchair. You may perceive another image in the armchair, though, either a person appearing to lie down, or half a smile. Well it should be the latter. The dot becomes an eye and the “seat” becomes a mouth. It’s strange that the armchair has only one eye; perhaps with two eyes it doesn’t look enough like an armchair. It also animates – check out the Instagram posts here and here for examples.

As for the type, it’s in a rounded sans-serif which matches the style of the icon, and the words are nicely aligned on both ends. The roundedness also conveys softness and comfort, ideal qualities in the seating and bedding products.

Below: new TV spot with logo animation at the end.

I’m feeling ambivalent about this redesign. In terms of screaming budget furniture store, the old logo wins out. Yes, the old logo was kind of offbeat, but it stuck in your mind. To throw out its recognition power in favour of something completely different is bizarre to me. I appreciate that the new logo is more contemporary, more sensible, and, sure, it does suggest affordability. But it also feels comparatively generic. The armchair icon is cute but I don’t need to see it animated – it’s rather corny and there’s not much it can do. Plus, without any more yellow in the update, the new logo starts to tread into the visual waters of major competitor Amart Furniture, which also uses red as a primary brand colour.

Admittedly, I have a soft spot for the old logo and would have liked to have seen an evolution of that instead. But I won’t lose sleep over this one.