System Process Form
MuirMcNeil

The ultimate typographic experiment – 7,762,392 typefaces from one of the world’s foremost typography studios

  • 24 days to go
  • 178 backers
  • $22,811.25 of $71,946.00 pledged
Funded 31%
  • 24 days to go
  • 178 backers
  • $22,811.25 of $71,946.00 pledged
Funded 31%

Overview

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. To complete this offering, supporters of all reward levels will receive a pair of new, unpublished Two type system families, TwoStencil and TwoNet.

Author

Paul McNeil
Hamish Muir

Genre

Graphic Design
Typography

Imprint

Unit Editions

Specification

400 pages
325 × 240 mm
Printed in three neon inks and black
Clothbound hardcover
Covered with jacket in neon blue

Collector’s Edition

Book contained in clamshell box
Box covered in cloth and foil-blocked
Each book cover is unique
Cut-flush book case
Signed by the authors
Edition limited to 288 copies

Rewards

The Book

• Your name in the book
• Only available on Volume
• TwoStencil typefaces (48 fonts)
• TwoNet typeface (5 fonts)

Collector’s Edition

• Each cover one of 288 unique designs
• Boxed in clamshell
• Signed by the authors
• Singular certificate of authenticity
• Your name in the book
• Only available on Volume
• TwoStencil typefaces (48 fonts)
• TwoNet typeface (5 fonts)

The Book Early Bird

• Reduced price
• Your name in the book
• Only available on Volume
• TwoStencil typefaces (48 fonts)
• TwoNet typeface (5 fonts)

Collector’s Edition Deluxe

• Complete MuirMcNeil Two system typefaces (198 fonts)
• Unique 70 x 50 cm digital print
• Each cover one of 288 unique designs
• Boxed in clamshell
• One-off certificate of authenticity
• Your name in the book
• Signed by the authors
• TwoStencil typefaces (48 fonts)
• TwoNet typeface (5 fonts)

Estimated delivery: Autumn 2023

Funding deadline: Friday, December 23 2022 6:00 pm UTC +00:00

All pledges will be refunded in full if the funding goal is not met within the allotted time.

The Book

Designed and edited by MuirMcNeil, System Process Form displays hundreds of visual examples taken from the Two type system, printed in three neon inks and metallic black throughout and structured in three sections.

Section 1 serves as the book’s core database, cataloguing the eight type family groups – 23 typefaces and 198 individual fonts – that constitute the Two type system. Revealing the logic and the potent visual opportunities of the system, Section 2 comprises a selection of two-layer combinations, where pairs of modular glyphs have been overprinted, either by choice or by chance, to generate a series of hybrid forms. Section 3 constitutes the main body of the book, with monochrome and multicoloured glyph combinations interacting in two, three or more calibrated layers. These integrated forms are structured within themed groups that are organized both algorithmically and by means of experimentation, play, observation and judgment.

The published examples, chosen for their distinctively abstract and striking appearance, represent only a tiny fraction of the total number of possible compositions generated in the making of System Process Form. To allow readers to develop their own designs, formulae are given for all glyph combinations shown throughout the book, specifying the fonts, sizes, tracking, line spacing and offsets that have been employed.

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.

John L Walters, Eye 94 (’Pleasure in the process’)

The Collector’s Edition

Limited to only 288 copies, this very special edition of System Process Form is presented in a clothbound pink clamshell box, featuring a foiled letterform. Each copy of the edition features a one-off cover design typeset in random glyphs from MuirMcNeil TwoNet and printed digitally in pink and blue on metallic-silver cut-flush boards.

Every copy of the Collector’s Edition is accompanied by an exclusive, numbered certificate of authenticity, signed by the authors. Each certificate features a bespoke one-off design generated from multilayered pattern panels extracted from the Two type system.

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

The Print

Twenty-six copies of the Collector’s Edition are offered in a deluxe package along with a unique, numbered digital print. Measuring 50 x 70 cm, each print features an A-Z letter pairing, typeset in three offset weights of TwoBlock A, and is signed by the authors. The print designs nudge the Two type system to the limits of legibility, to the precise point where the letterforms deny the reading process while continuing to conform to arrangements required by language, thus illustrating that form and content, reading and looking, are always inextricably linked in a manner that is similar to the connectivity of bone and muscle.

John L Walters, of Eye magazine, writes, “The unselfconscious ease with which their work straddles the digital and the physical reaches its apotheosis in their exquisitely screenprinted posters. Their plan chests are bursting with such specimens, often using foils and special colours, such as neons; they both love the sensual pleasures of print, the deep blacks made possible by the screenprint process.”

Graphic designers have traditionally rebelled against restrictions, frameworks and any protocol that might inhibit free expression. MuirMcNeil do the opposite: they embrace restrictions, frameworks and rules, intentionally locking themselves into algorithmic-like visual structures. Paradoxically, this results not in dullness, but in typographic work of startling beauty.

Adrian Shaughnessy

Typeface sets

Also available as part of our System Process Form reward sets are full typeface collections from MuirMcNeil, including an exclusive set created especially for the book and exclusive to this campaign.

Originally created in 2015 for use in brand communications projects, MuirMcNeil’s Two type system is a continuously expanding collection of monospaced typeface families constructed on a shared geometric framework. Eight compatible families from the system — 198 individual styles — have been used in the production of System Process Form.

TwoNet was developed specifically for use on the 288 unique cover designs for the System Process Form Collector’s Edition. Based on MuirMcNeil’s Two system core glyphs, it has been produced in five variants: Fine, Medium, Coarse, Fine Warp and Fine Weft.

Also based on MuirMcNeil’s Two system core glyphs, TwoStencil has been produced in hard and soft variants across four versions, each with nine weights. Bifurcated versions allow the generation of hard/hard, hard/soft, soft/soft hybrids where horizontal and vertical stroke weights can be varied independently.

We’re attempting to work at the boundaries of language and alphabetic form. Notions of legibility are overemphasized. You can push type almost to destruction and it can still be read – it depends on the context.

MuirMcNeil

Meet the authors

Hamish Muir was co-founder of the London-based graphic design studio 8vo (1985–2001), and co-editor of Octavo, journal of typography (1986–92). He was a senior lecturer in graphic design at the London College of Communication from 2002 to 2019, and has regularly delivered lectures, workshops and short courses to national and international institutions and audiences.

Paul McNeil is a graphic designer, educator and author. He has extensive experience in design teaching and was course leader of the master’s programme of Contemporary Typographic Media at the London College of Communication from 2010 to 2015. Seven years in the making, The Visual History of Type, McNeil’s definitive survey of type design and typography from 1450 to 2015, was published in 2017.