Nylon is an interpretation of pre-16th century letterforms, in particular those found in mediaeval portraits at the National Gallery, London. The source material contains many unusual and manic shapes—it appears as if these classical forms have, over time, become perverted, almost demonic. Draylon is the more restrained counterpart to Nylon; it is based on letterforms found on 18th century ceramics—some 200 years after the source material of Nylon. Nylon and Draylon have been designed so that they can be mixed together with ease. Both typefaces have been drawn with a kind of crude digital awkwardness—acknowledging the tool of the present moment, the computer, in the design process.
In spite of the source material that influenced the letterforms, the typeface names are 20th century in origin—two synthetic materials with man-made names. Nylon’s name is subject to an urban myth that manufacturers DuPont were trying to imbue their new wonder polymer with a transatlantic sophistication; using a conflation of New York and London (NY-Lon) as their inspiration. But the reality is more boring: Nylon’s original name was No-Run (signifying that it wouldn’t unravel), but the name couldn’t be justified, so it was changed and iterated through ‘nuron’ and ‘nilon’ before arriving at ‘nylon’. To mid-century consumers, the name Nylon epitomised the excitement about synthetic fabrics that were strong, long-lasting and consistent in quality. Nylon, decades on, became a byword for cheap, tacky versions of natural fabrics because, well, fashions change. Draylon’s name comes from a misspelling of ‘Dralon’, the acrylic fibre-based soft furnishing material.