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Carmen type specimen
The myth of Carmen, the gypsy Spanish woman, was the inspiration for the typeface. Here it’s used for the new edition of Prosper Merimée’s drama.The myth of Carmen, the gypsy Spanish woman, was the inspiration for the typeface. Here it’s used for the new edition of Prosper Merimée’s drama.
Typeface Review


Reviewed by Christian Palino on April 18, 2009

A beautiful Roma woman, murderous jealousy, a Basque hidalgo, fortune telling, knife fights, sexual persuasion, the occult.

Carmen is full of tension and surprise while traveling a well-worn road that reaches from Spain through France and into Italy. Commissioned for a new edition of Prosper Merimée’s book Carmen, Andreu Balius tells us that this Didone typeface draws inspiration from 1830s Spanish type specimens that were clearly rooted in the famous work of the Frenchman Firmin Didot. While there seem to be new Didone faces every day, the refined Carmen brings something new to the table, balancing somewhere between the illustrious work of Frutiger for Linotype and the smart, witty approach of a face like Porchez’s Ambroise. And if jealousy and murder seems too heavy for the occasion, you can always visit the circus in Paris with Carmen Fiesta.

Christian Palino is a designer and educator living in San Francisco. He is currently a Product Design Manager at Facebook and teaches Interaction Design at CCA. He previously worked at OpenTable, IDEO and Adaptive Path.


  1. My favourite for 2008.

  2. jko says:

    excelente face! Es muy española!

  3. Sudhir says:

    Absolutely stunning! I just love the ‘a’.

  4. funkfow says:

    Mr Balius showed it in a conference at my school and i was like “fuck, how little details can make a simple didone turn into a special thing”

  5. Chiaki says:

    Love the ‘N’ and ‘C’. It’s just beautiful.

  6. Carmen says:

    Parece que la hayan diseñado para mi. Es perfecta ya que me llamo Carmen y adoro la Bodoni. Me encanta y la quiero!

  7. Thanks a lot for your comments!
    It’s really nice to get some feedback.

  8. julio sagaiz says:

    Perefeito, simples Clean!!!!

  9. Etienne says:

    Yes its very elegant and chic. I love !!!

  10. Rafael says:

    Beatiful, but don’t like the ‘a’. It looks like a defect when seen in small sizes.

  11. Rafael – The ‘a’ you see here is the Display style meant for large sizes. The standard Carmen has a toned-down ‘a’ for text.

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Typographica is a review of typefaces and type books, with occasional commentary on fonts and typographic design. Edited by Stephen Coles with Caren Litherland and designed by Chris Hamamoto. Founded in 2002 by Joshua Lurie-Terrell. Relaunched in 2009 by Coles and Hamamoto.

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