Euro contest ‘limited’

Leading UK designers are calling for a limited competition to design the banknotes for the controversial European single currency to be opened up.

The competition, launched on Monday by the European Monetary Institute, is currently open “only to experienced banknote designers selected by the national central banks”. For the UK, this is likely to mean entries will be restricted to the Bank of England’s in-house team or possibly designers at De La Rue, which designs and prints 60 per cent of the world’s banknotes.

“It’s just sad that they’ve closed the doors on a lot of talented people who could have created exceptional work,” says Pentagram partner John McConnell. “A lot of people would have submitted work willingly, including Pentagram,” he adds.

Sir Terence Conran and Chartered Society of Designers president-elect Nick Jenkins are among those who agree the competition should be opened out.

Jenkins says EMI should “concentrate on the concept. Limiting the competition to banknote designers means we’ll get more of the same poor quality design”.

The EMI is looking for design concepts for banknotes in seven denominations. Two design routes have been selected. One will be based on the theme Ages and Styles of Europe, with one side of each banknote depicting a certain era and the other side displaying an architectural feature from the same period.

The second option will be a series of notes featuring an “abstract or contemporary design”, according to the EMI brief.

All the designs will have to allow for certain security features.

The competition will close on 13 September, despite uncertainty about the timing for introducing a single currency in Europe.

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