Carolina Fernández is the founder of Ex Industria Argentina, a letterpress business in the Abasto neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. Carolina’s studio and workshop are located in her home, a 1930s building that she shares with her painter husband. Our contributing photographer, Andrea Fernández, visited Ex Industria Argentina on her last trip to Buenos Aires and interviewed Carolina about her love for letterpress, the equipment she uses and how her space influences her work.
Photos & Interview by Andrea Fernández.
What is the concept behind Ex Industria Argentina?
From the first day, my goal was to bring back an appreciation for the traditional technique of typography printing or letterpress, the composition using wood or metal types, the impression the type leaves on paper, the time and the dedication the process requires. The name of the project echoes this idea: a way of working that has been left behind, which I’m trying to highlight by bringing a touch of design to.
What is your creative background in and how did you get involved with letterpress?
I was a product designer at a paper house producing lots of different kinds of paper goods. We would make paper by hand on a paper mill and had a workshop specialising in bookbinding and serigraphy, an art gallery and a typography printing studio. It was here that I deeply connected with the art and design world, and got close to printing.
What was the space before you transformed it into your studio & home? How was the renovation process?
The house dates back to the 1930s and is both mine and my husband’s studios, as well as our home. He is a visual artist and did the remodelling of the space to originally house his big art pieces. My studio is on the middle floor, which used to be the open air sun terrace.
Tell us about the equipment and machinery you use and its history.
I print using two antique letterpress machines, known as Minerva’s. They are both from German origin but I don’t have the specific details about them. The smallest one is a Hogenforst that dates back to the 1920s. I bought it from a printer in the San Telmo neighbourhood that used it to print religious cards. I also have a bigger one that is more sturdy and strong.
What do you enjoy the most about working in this space? Does it have a direct impact on your work?
My favourite aspect of my workspace is that it is also my home, which means I have an immense flexibility on my work hours and incorporating it into my daily routines. I love the light I get in this space, infiltrating through the ceiling and reflecting off the tin walls. I feel very connected with the outside world; if it’s overcast my studio is grey, if the sun comes out the space just shines.