Four new geometric typefaces from Paul McNeil and Hamish Muir’s studio are supported by a series of bold, large-format posters and new-look website…
The two designers founded MuirMcNeil in 2010 – McNeil, a type designer and course leader of the MA in Contemporary Typographic Media at the London College of Communication; Muir, well known for his work as co-founder of 8vo (and co-editor of its type journal, Octavo), and now art director of digital publisher, Outcast Editions.
The four new typefaces – Panopticon, Intersect, Nine and Interact – continue the design approach that the studio explored in its ThreeSix optical/geometric type system, which in 2011 won a Premier Award from The International Society of Typographic Designers.
As geometric designs the typefaces can, say MuirMcNeil, function as the building blocks of both page and screen architectures. “The attributes of each type system, such as contours, set width, spacing and weight, are modulated consistently in calibrated steps,” they say, “allowing the user precise control of typographic arrangements, spaces or sequences.
“In addition, working with any MuirMcNeil type system in bitmap, vector or moving image software, the user is able to overlay selected component forms either in precise registration or in easily calculated positional offsets. Outlines, tints, colours, textures, patterns, transparencies or transitions can subsequently be applied as appropriate.”
Below, MuirMcNeil explain the thinking behind each of the four new faces, which have already spawned some rather fine day-glo posters.
The site muirmcneil.com has also been relaunched in time for the new projects, with both typeface licenses and posters (each measuring 100 x 70 cm) available to purchase.
Interact (poster shown, top of post)
Interact 06 / 18 shown in sample
“Interact was originally designed by 8vo in 1994 as a system of grid-based bitmap typefaces for screen use in four fixed sizes,” say the studio. “Taking as a starting point the optical characteristics of the stroke junctions in Wim Crouwel’s ‘vormgevers’ lettering of 1968, Interact employs horizontal and vertical lines as well as forty-five degree pixel steps to modulate a set of stroke junctions which have the effect of optically rounding the letterforms. Interact has been extensively expanded and revised as a system of 23 typefaces in four scaleable groups with a comprehensive range of 12 calibrated weights. Interact typefaces follow a mathematical progression in which type sizes are scaled in exact proportion to a constant pixel resolution.”
Intersect A / 4-4 shown in sample
“Intersect is a geometric bitmap type system which aims to subvert the idea of typographic weight,” say MuirMcNeil. “Where traditional type designs can only provide a binary contrast of positive and negative, or form and counterform, Intersect exceeds this limitation by emulating a successive range of linear screens to give the illusion of tonal densities within the body of the letterform. The Intersect system is available in two alternative variants, analogous to light and bold, with each featuring16 screen patterns and tones mapped onto the same grid. Intersect typefaces can be assembled in multiple layers, providing thousands of possible visual permutations.”
Panopticon A / 10 shown in sample
“Named after a form of polygonal building devised in the 18th-century by Jeremy Bentham to facilitate controlled and concealed viewpoints, Panopticon is a system of three-dimensional display typefaces in four orthographic projections,” the studio explains. “Each typeface projection is subdivided into four separate sub-component layers which are designed to interlock with one another precisely, offering a wide range of possible visual interactions.”
Nine Metric / 162 shown in sample
“Nine is a geometric type system available in both varispaced and monospaced versions – Nine Metric and Nine Mono,” say MuirMcNeil. “Although both Nine versions have been generated within strict geometric constraints they are sufficiently robust for use in either extended text settings or display. Both typefaces have nine weights whose strokes align on a central horizontal and vertical axis onto which weight is added incrementally. In this way, width, stroke, cap-height, x-height, ascent and descent are modulated vertically and horizontally on a fixed grid. The grid also determines consistent character and word spacing throughout.”
More details at muirmcneil.com.