Which country do you think has the best-designed currency?'
Bristol has recently launched the Bristol Pound to promote the city’s economy. Which country (or area) do you think has the best-designed coins and banknotes?
‘I love the delicacy of gravure printing on linen paper; the US one-dollar-bill is iconic. But, you know when you stare at a word for long enough, and it loses its meaning? That’s how I feel about printed currency. The more I think about it, the more ludicrous it seems: a global pact, agreeing that our tiny versions of reproductions of engraved certificates can be exchanged for real stuff or services. Weird.’
Michael Smith, director, Cog Design
‘There are lots of examples of beautiful old banknotes. But I can’t think of any modern notes that really make the most of the design opportunity in hand (pun intended). The fairly recent Euro is not only a bit of a flop as a single currency, but also a fairly uninspiring design. The recent banknote redesign that got me excited about how engaging money could be was the dollar redesign by Dowling Duncan in 2010. It was practical (different sizes for each denomination), clever, relevant, engaging and educational. The only shame is it was part of the ‘Dollar Rede$ign Competition’, rather than something that’s really happened. But it does show what could be done if a great designer gets their hands on the brief. And that I find really exciting.’
Jamie Elull, joint creative director, Magpie Studio
‘The nicest designed bank notes I’ve seen lately would have to be the Brixton pound. Printed with a modern design comprised of Helvetica fonts and multi-culturally relevant imagery of faces and places related to Brixton. As a local, I’ve purchased a few but have been loathe to spend them. Maybe in part due to the novelty factor, but also because I liked the look of them so much. An interesting notion to the value of money, when you’d rather keep it because of its aesthetic appeal than spend it.’
Jon Daniel, independent creative director
‘As a user of the Brixton pound I have experience of a localised currency. It is useful to promote loyalty to the local economy but a more radical approach is required. Small local businesses need help from local authorities, landlords and central government to maintain business when pitched against the buying and marketing might of the multiple. A “local tax” (or rather an out of town tax) on larger multiples used to help smaller independent high street businesses would be a more interesting option. Discuss.’
Philip Dolman, director, Studio DB