It is no secret I admire people with the courage to take risks and play in an experimental (& speculative) arena with their design work, so I am an enthusiastic follower of the work coming out of London studio MuirMcNeil.
Founded in 2010, MuirMcNeil’s the partners Paul McNeil and Hamish Muir explore the potential of 'parametric design systems to generate appropriate solutions to visual communication problems'. The design outcomes of this brave exploration are bold and beautiful modular type systems (and outstanding specimen prints). Precise mathematics, innovation and skilled craftsmanship underpin the construction, style and form of the studio's work.
In this insightful 2014 Design Boom interview Paul describes what sets their type design apart from traditional type designers "we aren’t‚ really type designers so much as designers making type... we appreciate what traditional type designers do but they often seem motivated by intrinsic details and driven by what current technologies afford. we’re more interested in the architecture of visual communication and see type design as a component of its engineering, as the bricks in the construction."
The studio's latest release is 'Cut' a stencil design inspired by typestyles from two different historical periods. Its proportions are based on the forms of rationalist typefaces produced in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries such as those by Firmin Didot, Giambatista Bodoni and Robert Thorne. The sharp vertical stroke contrast of these types is pushed to an extreme in Cut, with hairline cross-strokes dissolved into open white spaces that reduce its letterforms to individual geometric segments.
The systematic construction of Cut’s letters is informed by typefaces created in the early twentieth century by designers like Herbert Bayer, Josef Albers and Jan Tschichold, who broke down the parts of letters into simple geometric units that could be used as structural components to build alphabets by means of scaling, reflection, repetition and redistribution. Although the typefaces produced in these historical periods appear to share few visual attributes, they can be seen as stages in the development of a common heritage that is rational, reductive, modern and elegant. The Cut design is intended to reconcile these disparate points of reference in a single form.
I love that Cut honors the geometry of the system without being a slave to it. The elements of this face have beautiful rhythm. It is a smart and elegant design outcome from a duo of talented and passionate designers I hold in very high regard. Cut is available from http://www.muirmcneil.com/shop/ as an OpenType display family in three weights. Light, Regular and Bold.