I understand there are primitives, which are raw data, and I have to reference them. But do I have to create a new collection every time for each component? And how do modes blend into it then?

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If I understood your question correctly, here's some information that might help you:

  • Primitives collection should be used as references in semantic tokens. Apart from that it is common practice to descope/unpublish primitives collection to make sure you and your team members won't be choosing wrong properties for components. More information on how to unpublish variables in collection could be found here.
  • You can store different tokens inside one single collection and by specifying different names for variables (e.g. text / primary; text / secondary for different text variables) these tokens will be organized automatically according to the given name. More information regarding token's naming convention here.
  • Keep in mind that Figma offers variable modes which allows you to assign multiple values for one single token. It comes in handy if you're designing light/dark modes for the application. More information here.

If something's not clear, I'll update my answer according to your comment.

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