Neue’s Norwegian passport designs feature landscape illustrations on every page

Released this week after winning the contract in 2014, the concept celebrates the connective power of nature – and transforms under UV light.

28 October 2020


Six years after Neue won the coveted contract to design Norway’s new passports, this week saw their release. The concepts that won them the project were lauded back in 2014, winning design prizes long before they truly existed, and happily, they are even more beautiful in real-life printed form. The design concept is based on nature and its intrinsic meaning to Norwegian culture, pervading all ages, genders and regions of the country. An illustrated landscape is, therefore, depicted on every page.

While practically the brief called for a new passport design to increase security, more idealistically it asked designers to connect with the Norwegian people on a foundational level, with a theme that was widely recognisable, expressed Norwegian identity, maintained traditions and would remain relevant for many years. “Therefore it was important to look at our historical foundation and what in the Norwegian culture creates a sense of belonging,” says Neue’s senior designer Benjamin Stenmarck. Nature, he adds, “is and always has been part of our history”.

So the design team looked around them for inspiration for how to adorn the internal pages of the passports. The dramatic scenery of fjords, mountains, forests, rivers, rich sunsets and the northern lights all feature in different illustrations, a unique one on every Visa page, in one cohesive style drawn by Neue’s in-house team. As they form backgrounds to the pages where important information will be stamped and needs to be perfectly legible, these detailed images are executed entirely in pale shades of blue, with finely added lines and cross-hatching creating a variance in texture to define objects such as mountains and sky.

Under UV light, details of these images come to life in vivid tones, jumping out of the page – for example, the undulating light stream of the Aurora Borealis or light on certain layers of the coastline.

“Images of scenery and landscapes can easily become cliches, but by being widely accepted and deeply rooted in Norwegian culture, they are also very easy to identify with,” Stenmarck explains. “In addition, to Norwegians, nature is more than beautiful scenery. It supplies us with rich fisheries, clean hydroelectric power, and various other industries.

“By using illustrations of single parts of a wide Norwegian panorama, we want to show the contrasts in landscapes and climates that have shaped us, offered opportunities and resources, places for recreation and the scenes of important historical events," he concludes. “The landscapes surrounding us give a sense of belonging and pride, and fill a symbolic function for the entire nation.”

GalleryNeue Design Studio: Norwegian passports (Copyright © Neue, 2020) Photos by Catharina Caprino / Hest Agentur

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Neue Design Studio: Norwegian passports (Copyright © Neue, 2020) Photos by Catharina Caprino

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Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

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