Courtesy MuirMcNeil.

Name: Diode
Designer: Natasha Lucas
Foundry: MuirMcNeil
Release Date: September 2020

Back Story: Designer Natasha Lucas first began a series of visual experiments examining the interdependence of positive and negative spaces in typographic forms back in 2018 with her Bisect type system. Bisect was part of a larger coordinated visual system promoting a series of Harold Pinter’s memory plays, which draw upon memories that may or may not be true, often resulting in unintended consequences based on faulty remembrances. In Forget Me Not, Geoffrey Batchen’s 2004 book on photography and remembrance, the author writes, “For memory is always in a state of ruin…caught in a conundrum—the passing of time that makes memory possible is also what makes memory fade and die.” Bisect and its new sister alphabet Diode are intended, Lucas says, “to express the progressive fragmentation of language as it is eroded by the selective, faulty nature of memory.”

Whys it called Diode? “We settled on Diode after running through about 20 other alternatives, because the word refers to a device with two terminals allowing the flow of current in one direction,” says foundry principal Paul McNeil. “That definition seemed to reflect the on/off switching effect of the positive and negative parts of the design. We also like the word for its plain, monosyllabic quality and its evocations of electrical power and in a vague way, classical poetry.”

What are its distinguishing characteristics? Diode’s reciprocating forms and counterforms, made from just three different geometric modules, echo back to the experimental modular type systems generated during the early 20th century by Bauhaus master Josef Albers, as well as real-world typefaces such as Futura Black Stencil by Paul Renner. There are hints of Herbert Bayer’s rounded Universal typeface in here, too. Diode’s letters and words are playfully ambiguous, teetering on the edge of abstraction while always remaining true to their alphabetic origins. As a type system, Diode is structurally incomplete yet maintains visual integrity and legibility through optimal use of space. Diode is offered in three matching versions, one positive and two negative, and in three sets of individual letter component fonts designed to register precisely with one another in layers, offering a huge range of visual possibilities.

What should I use it for? Only a mischievous imp would even consider setting body copy in Diode. Allow it to shine as an unusual and eye-catching choice for headlines and other display. It’s especially energetic as a motion graphic.

What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? For contrast with Diode’s rounded geometry, try something condensed and/or blocky such as Tungsten or Druk.