The It’s Nice That Podcast: Discussing the form and function of money

28 March 2017

“Inherently creative, beautiful illustrations, amazing design, but when have I ever actually looked at it?” asks Alex Bec on money, the latest subject of the It’s Nice That podcast.

A piece of design we come into contact with multiple times a day, and with a new £1 coin to be released on 28 March, Alex and Will discuss the function, characteristics and the form of money in this month’s episode.

First up is Ben Alsop, the project curator at the City Money Gallery, part of The British Museum. Ben explains how currency can be a number of different objects and materials, not just the gold, silver and bronze we understand it as. The curator also speaks about how money works as a great mass communicator. “There is nothing else that is made in such numbers so quickly…transmitting messages and ideas, languages, imagery, even religious beliefs.”

Next, the pair meet Mary Morgan, a professor on the history and philosophy of economics at the London School of Economics. Mary explains situations where money is unavailable and the consequential substitutes that develop and the functions it must entail. For instance an object that is a measure of value and exchangeable, “it must be something that is very stable, readily available and sort of reliable in its value”.

Finally, Alex and Will meet Julian Payne the creative director of De La Rue which designs, prints and manufactures money for 40% of the world. De La Rue’s role in working with government to create “iconic, national designs that represent their countries,” gives the pair a whole new respect for the design, thought and consideration that goes into designing money.

The episode can be listened to here.

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About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019, was made deputy editor and in November 2021, she became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.

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