La Reinita is an ode to the typographic history of Paris. A revival of the Romain du Roi, this typeface builds on this unconventional structure to create a design that is as elegant as it is quirky. The Romain du Roi is often dismissed as quaint, over-rationalized, and anachronistic. Although the origins of these bizarre romans are lost in the sands of time, many features of the design are still as relevant as ever: the elemental forms evoke modernist motifs; the modular components reflect the efficiency of the digital world; the irregularities evoke a world that was as much in flux then as it is now.
Instead of disregarding these eccentricities, La Reinita embraces and integrates them into a cohesive system that expands over axes of weight and contrast, expanding the typeface’s utility—and uncovering some unexpected surprises. From the most delicate display type to a chunky slab serif; from stately romans to playful bold weights, La Reinita’s strange, baroque basis gives rise to a design that encompasses a greater range of human experience.
There is a saying: “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” Sometimes, in haste, one discards something of value, even out of positive intent. This saying rings especially true of my experience developing La Reinita. Even though I selected the Romain du Roi as the subject of my study, I thought it was ridiculous and unwieldy. Noticing that I was too eager to disregard some of the essential features of the typeface, my instructors encouraged me to stick close to the source material. Within two weeks, I had grown thoroughly accustomed to the Romain du Roi’s charms. Some of the most unconventional inconsistencies in the typeface had become the building blocks of the alphabet. The acceptance and study of these features led me to a newfound appreciation for the Jaugeon Committee’s brainchild and, by contrast, for the structure of contemporary letterforms.
Another instance where this saying held true was my struggle to expand on the typeface in a meaningful manner. I was both excited and daunted by the relatively untapped realm of possibilities that exist within the niche genre of a geometric, bilateral serif typeface. Seriously: who makes such a thing? More importantly, what kinds of possibilities could be derived from this template? In my dogged quest to uncover the inner workings of the Romain du Roi, I turned my back on some possibilities that would have pushed the project into more interesting territory. The moral: be always open to the process and let the project have a greater say in its own design. Sticking too close to a predetermined expectation can lead to a dull result.
That being said, La Reinita pushed me to conceptualize more, draw, and solve problems faster than I thought possible. If it hadn’t been for the encouragement of TypeParis, I never would have thought of creating a monolinear, geometric slab serif based on a baroque template, nor would I have ever considered making a fatface in the same design space. Technically, managing 5 different designs within the same Glyphs file brought me far outside of my comfort zone. Two days before delivery, I was confronted with a rat’s nest of a file that made almost no sense to me. Let’s say that, with help from the instructors, I got really fast at troubleshooting interpolation issues.
Overall, this project taught me to simplify, loosen up, and work smarter—not harder: that type design is a conversation, not a monologue.
The 6-week type design programme that you’ve been waiting for starts on 4 June and ends 12 July 2024.