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Jonathan Brady: New Coin

Work / Graphic Design

Our round-up of interesting currency redesigns

The Royal Mint has unveiled a new coinage portrait of the Queen, only the fifth during her 63-year reign. The new coins, which will go into circulation later this year, feature a portrait designed by engraver Jody Clark selected in a competition hosted by the Royal Mint Advisory Committee. In light of this, we thought we’d have a look at some proposed and actual redesigns of currencies around the world, from age old gold standards to Bitcoins, and abstract pixels to odes to scientific discovery.

ECOGEX develops open-source hack to establish a common symbol for Bitcoin

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ECOGEX: Bitcoin Symbol

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ECOGEX: Bitcoin Symbol

ECOGEX is a design studio working exclusively for Bitcoin. Its non-profit project Bitcoin Symbol is a hack seeking to establish a common character to ascribe to the currency. As there is no Bitcoin consortium, the project relies on long-term community support and adoption.

Bitcoin has had a large number of logos and symbols aligned with it but as a decentralised currency, rather than needing a consistent logo it requires a recognisable symbol that can sit within a variety of contexts and be customised without losing its meaning. ECOGEX is suggesting a symbol supported by multiple free fonts. The graphic identity was designed with open-source software and the graphic pack supplied on the site is free of charge, containing multiple vector images, 2D and 3D source files and endless customisable material.

Snøhetta’s pixellated banknote design for Norway’s Norges Bank

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Snøhetta: Norges Bank

We posted about Snøhetta’s Beauty of Boundaries notes back in October. Selected by the Norges Bank as the reverse design of banknotes that will go into cirulation in 2017, they use images from Norway’s coastal landscape, translated into pixellated, colour-block snapshots.

The studio used the Beaufort wind force scale as an influence in determining the dimensions of each pixel, according to the wind force at each location.

Karen Willey and Marjolein Rothman’s proposal for the new Dutch Euro coins

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Karen Willey and Marjolein Rothman: new Dutch Euro coin proposal

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Karen Willey and Marjolein Rothman: new Dutch Euro coin proposal

Gerrit Rietveld and Werkplaats alumnus Karen Willey collaborated with artist Marjolein Rotham in 2013 on a proposal for a new series of Dutch Euro coins, initiated by the Royal Dutch Mint. The coins were to feature newly-appointed King Willem-Alexander and Karen and Marjolein’s idea was to use portraits of the king as a child, prince and finally in his new position as king.

They proposed a modernised, layered aesthetic for the portraits and Karen established a new system for the typography. The coins have the feel of 1960s rosettes and badges, and an optimistic, youthful aesthetic.

Travis Purrington’s proposed redesign of the American Dollar note

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Travis Purrington: WORTH

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Travis Purrington: WORTH

In his MA thesis WORTH: The Aesthetics of Global Interest, Basel School of Design student Travis Purrington designed a proposal for an updated US Dollar note. Inspired by the Swiss Franc’s 20-year design cycle, Travis developed a new iconographic system that better represented advancements and culture within American society.

His design played on the theme of human discovery, connecting achievement, theory and the fundamental properties of life. Bearing in mind that this started as an MA project in 2011, Travis’ designs have been doing the rounds all over the internet in the last six months. With all its popularity, on Wired, Slate and Foreign Policy as well as all over Tumblr, Travis recognises that the American Dollar is almost remarkable for its lack of innovation. Unlike the colonial legacy pushed by the current design, Travis’ proposal was for notes that reflect human reason and a humanistic, secular, scientific outlook on the world.