Architect Jacopo Mascheroni transformed an old Italian monastery into a sublimely minimalist loft. Could I live there very happily? You bet your ass I could.
(yes, I’ve been listening to the audio version of The Kid Stays In The Picture as narrated by The Kid himself, Robert Evans. Is it any good? You bet your ass it is)
Aegir Hallmundur, of Ministry of Type recently shared an illustrative piece he created for Wired Magazine. The piece he created is the re-imagining of a US one hundred dollar bank note.
Some elements such as the Paypal, iTunes logo incorporations may be slightly impractical but I don’t believe this was an exercise in practicality and I appreciate every aspect of his design and the issues of pursuing the imperfect perfection he raised in his post are particularly intriguing.
I recall my first encounter with European currency. Aged 16 and traveling outside of the US with a friend, the Dutch Guilder made quite an impression.
I remember thinking how exotic, how colorful and how utterly absurd it was. It might as well have been play money with all those colors and watermarks. Everyone knew that REAL money was supposed to be green, sober and dull. After a day or so however the naiveté fell away. I was able to discern the denominations with only a glimpse of a note’s folded corner and the watermarking was so cleverly incorporated it dawned how difficult it would have been to forge. Form and function all wrapped up into one.
Of course like the Guilder, currencies and their designs do sometimes fade away.
The example below is a Bank of South Carolina Five Dollar note. You can see in this design hints of the US currency we know today.
When currencies evolve rather than die, I’m sure there must be a period of exploration that takes place - though I’d imagine this process is often quite limited and stifled. I’m intrigued then when more adventurous concepts crop up. Japanese designer Mac Funamizu evolved representational aspects of Infographics into coins with each demoniation’s shape representing their respective pie chart ratio. Imagine how quickly a tourist could understand the value of each.
Occasionally bright ideas do actually manage to make their way past bureaucratic jug heads as was the case in 2008 when a young designer by the name of Matthew Dent was the winner of a competition to decide the new look of the UK’s coinage.
While not as adventurous as the Infgraphical concept, Matthew’s design retained all of the history and form of the previous coins but brought a modern twist and elegance by featuring a section from the Royal Arms on the reverse of each coin. The one pound coin displaying the full coat while the others establish a collective whole when seen together.
Happily it seems this process of challenging our design preconceptions with regards to currency is something being actively pursued by some design educators. Jason Santa Maria, a Graphic Designer who is also a faculty member in the MFA Interaction Design Program at the School of Visual Arts, recently challenged his students to design their own local currency. The results were as diverse as the neighborhoods they represented.
It’s so easy to look past the design of the currency we use every day but like most things we take for granted, there is beauty there if we take a moment to stop, look and enquire.