MuirMcNeil and Unit Editions
The ultimate typographic experiment – 7,762,392 typefaces from one of the world’s foremost typography studios.
MuirMcNeil makes typefaces that work in mysterious but mathematical ways. Using methods that are entirely contemporary, though they can seem arcane, they explore ‘parametric design systems’. And there is something about their commitment to a punchy, practical, systems-based approach that communicates far and wide.
Founded in 2009 by Paul McNeil and Hamish Muir, MuirMcNeil was established to explore the use of systematic methods in graphic design, typography and moving image. Their first publication, System Process Form, is a detailed survey of their Two type system, an extensive collection of geometric alphabets in which every stroke, shape, letterform and word is designed to correspond and collaborate in close harmony. Far from a mere catalogue of typefaces, this publication is a powerful demonstration of the beauty of analytical approaches to form-giving for visual communication, one that embraces both micro and macro views, and one whose end results can be as spectacular as they are unexpected.
Driven by numbers, rules, conditions and permutations as well as design decisions and collisions, the Two type system is a continuously evolving body of work both analog and digital, algorithmic and fortuitous, predefined and wildly unpredictable. The system comprises eight family groups, designed not as independent alphabets but as features of an expansive design space in which individual glyphs interact as variable components. A standard grid determines positioning for both shapes and spaces with every element aligning precisely, so that the superimposition of any pair of the system’s 198 modular fonts will result in a single unique instance from 39,204 possible combinations. Selected examples of these combined forms are displayed in System Process Form, along with many even more exuberant outputs composed from the millions of options afforded by the combinations of three layers.
In the editions here, exclusive to Volume, System Process Form reveals how design can be liberated from the narrow confines of individual ideas, intentions or expressions, leaving the designer free to discover infinite new organisms rather than being obliged to invent them.
Aesthetics are usually considered a set of principles concerned with the nature of beauty, but for both of us, systems are aesthetically beautiful in themselves.MuirMcNeil