Type News

Interview with Alexandra Korolkova, designer of FF Carina

November 08, 2016 by
David Sudweeks
David Sudweeks

FF Carina offers a contemporary view of the late-Renaissance / early enlightenment romantics Didot and Bodoni. David Sudweeks had the pleasure of interviewing the new display family’s designer Alexandra Korolkova on the story behind the typeface and what shaped the final design.

Well first, hi Alexandra. So happy to see FF Carina ready for release. How did the idea for the typeface first come about?

The project began in 2007 when a custom one-style typeface, based on an all caps lettering from a wine label, was commissioned by a magazine called Italia. After the time of exclusive use expired I reworked the face, especially the letters derived from the reference images, and the story started again in 2008.

An early version of FF Carina created for Italia magazine.
An early version of FF Carina created for Italia magazine.

What came up that you weren’t expecting?

This is a typeface with the most complicated and time-consuming contours I’ve ever designed, even the serifs have specific shapes with a lot of curves. Also, I learned a lot while designing the Black: it’s interesting to take the main features of the design and then make a concentrated version of them.

What was the process there?

I always try to make the second master face as fat as possible (within common sense). For me, it seems natural to make Black more display than Regular even in text faces. While Carina Regular looks almost like a headline style of Bodoni or Didot, Carina Black has more emphasized display details, such as extremely long vertical serifs, lower terminals in c and e, floral-shaped legs of R and Ж and so on. Maybe it even takes something from display serifs of the U&lc magazine of the 1970s.

The design’s first 20 letters
The design’s first 20 letters

How did your tools shape the design?

I think that the only tool that really influenced the shapes was Fontlab with its Bezier curves: I found out that putting the Bezier handles slightly the wrong way makes the counters of the round glyphs look the way they are in Carina. Of course, I was keeping the pointed pen logic in mind but I think that historical forms were more important — both seen in type history books and in important digital typefaces of that kind, like J F Porchez's Ambroise.

Did you begin with the Cyrillic and then draw the Latin?

I always design Latin and Cyrillic at the same time as any Cyrillic typeface contains Latin glyphs as well, and as Latin glyphs are widely used in Cyrillic-writing countries. So there are no Cyrillic designers which don't design Latin.

Why the name Carina?

The initial literal idea of the typeface was to make it both Italian and feminine. As the most Italian type is (of course) Bodoni, the graphic idea was something like "If Bodoni were a girl": the modern serif base with softened and flirty features, like rounded serifs or petal-shaped ball terminals (and unnecessary ligatures as well). So it was obvious that the typeface should have an Italian name meaning a nice woman. First I named it Belladonna (pretty woman in Italian) but as this name was taken already, I had to learn some other Italian words and chose Carina for the name (which means nice girl).

Thanks Alexandra!

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