Good design can be stimulating. With that premise in mind, the London-based design consultant Richard Smith proposes "a thorough, in-depth, rebranding scheme" for America's paper currency. After all, consumer and lender confidence is partly a psychological phenomenon. Could a monetary makeover provide the boost -- the stimulus -- we need? (The basic look of our currency, Smith notes, dates to the 1930s.)
Smith himself gets his "Dollar Rede$ign Contest" off to a start with bills that trade portraiture and beaux arts filigrees for crisp fonts and swirling geometric patterns. Each bill would have a dominant color, the dollar a vibrant green, for example, the five-dollar bill a rich blue.
Michael Tyznik stays a bit more conservative, keeping the presidents and the "greenback" green but adding a splash of rectilinear color and, on the back, quotations from the Bill of Rights.
Other entrants have presented designs featuring the Great Lakes and, less seriously, Jack Nicholson and Michele Obama. Smith is posting his favorites on Flickr, and will announce a winner sometime after July 4, the (apt) deadline for entering. The prize will be a t-shirt designed by Smith.
The contest may seem whimsical, but the Swiss government -- which maintains its own currency in the face of the Euro -- did something quite similar a few years ago, holding a national, official, currency-design contest. The winning artist's work can be seen here (check out the fetus motif!), though officials, it appears, decided to move ahead with some notions from the second-place finisher instead. The first of the new Swiss bills is on schedule to appear next year. The existing Swiss bills are pretty cool as it is, featuring the visages of such figures as Le Corbusier and the composer Arthur Honegger. Swiss bureaucrats even use interesting fonts in their memos discussing the contest. Would that our own Fed were so hip.
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