Back Story: While still a student at the London College of Communication, graphic designer Natasha Lucas began designing Bisect as a part of a larger project based on Harold Pinter’s mid-career “memory plays.” In a memory play, a lead character narrates events drawn from memories that may or may not be factually accurate. Pinter’s Old Times (1971), No Man’s Land (1975), and Betrayal (1978) question how faulty memory and false perception lead us to harmful conclusions and personal betrayals.
Lucas developed the Bisect type system as a visual expression of the progressive fragmentation of language as it erodes through the selective, faulty nature of memory. At the same time, she wanted to create a coherent visual type system that would work across a range of print and digital media. She developed a subtly modulated grid for the construction of Bisect’s letterforms, governed by a playful exchange between separate segments. Subsequently, MuirMcNeil developed a full character set and cut Bisect in three versions.
Why’s it called Bisect? The word bisect means “to divide into two usually equal parts,” and this typeface does just that with its letterforms, carving each one into vertical and horizontal segments that register precisely with one another in layers to offer a wide range of visual possibilities.
What are its distinguishing characteristics? Bisect is a monospaced geometric type system, and all its letters occupy squares. The designer constructed the letterforms using a meticulous, subtle relationship of vertical, horizontal, and curved segments along with extremely tight letter spacing. The characters look as if they’re formed from Modernist ribbons, with well-deployed uses of negative space; the P, for instance, does not have a completed stroke for its spine and verges on the abstract, yet somehow maintains its integrity and legibility as a letter. Bisect is available in Opentype encoding for Macintosh.
What should I use it for? Just ask Paul McNeil, partner in the foundry bearing his name: “Big settings/strong settings/short settings/brand identity designs/posters/typographic animations/play/fun/exploration.”
What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? “We don’t. The notion of ‘font pairing’ brings us out in a rash—but Bisect contrasts well with just about anything,” says McNeil. Skin ailments aside, geometric sans serifs such as London are logical companions thanks to their visually obvious mathematical roots.