Norway’s new banknotes influenced by the sea air

Norges Bank has announced that designs by two Oslo studios have been chosen to feature on Norway’s new banknotes, which will come into circulation in 2017. Snøhetta’s design for the reverse of the notes features a pixellated image of the country’s coastline, the amount of distortion depicting the wind speed as it whips up with each denomination

Norges Bank has announced that designs by two Oslo studios have been chosen to feature on Norway’s new banknotes, which will come into circulation in 2017. Snøhetta’s design for the reverse of the notes features a pixellated image of the country’s coastline, the amount of distortion depicting the wind speed as it whips up with each denomination…

Earlier this year, eight designers were invited to submit proposals for Norway’s new banknote design on the theme of ‘the sea’. Today, the central bank of Norway announced that designs by The Metric System and Snøhetta will be used on the obverse (full set shown bottom of post) and reverse sides of the banknotes, respectively.

Snøhetta’s design, ‘Beauty of Boundaries’, renders images from the Norwegian coastal landscape in a mosaic-like pixellated form. Using a modern visual langauge, say the studio, they aimed to respresent where the sea and land meet, reflecting the communities which thrive on the coast.

According to the Norges Bank catalogue accompanying an exhibition of the shortlisted work, the patterns generated on the studio’s designs for the reverse refer to the Beaufort wind force scale. On the 50 kroner denomination the wind is weak, so the image is rendered in short, square shapes; while on the 1,000 kroner note the wind is strong, creating longer, stretched-out forms and – while difficult to discern in the images shown here – choppier waves in the water.

It’s such a refreshing idea and reminded us of the kind of attention to detail on show in the work of the great ‘Ootje’ Oxenaar, who designed the Dutch banknotes in the late 1960s – and often included ‘personal’ touches in the designs, to the annoyance of the Dutch Central Bank (my interview with him from 2007 is here).

Notes shown are not to scale: they increase in length with the denomination. Images from the Norges Bank catalogue

“The obverses from The Metric System are very well suited to the incorporation of necessary security elements,” say Norges Bank. “The expression is open, light and typically Nordic. Using the pixel motifs from Snøhetta Design as the reverse will give the notes both a traditional and a modern expression.”

The bank is now working to ensure further security elements are designed into the notes. All the shortlisted designs are on show in a new exhibition in Grafill in Oslo, which opened last night and runs until October 26 (Rosenkrantz gate 21).

The obverse of the new notes will be based on the ‘Norwegian Living Space’ design by The Metric System


Notes shown are not to scale: they increase in length with the denomination, like this (pic: Brand New)

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  • Antje

    The top one is so radical from the traditional style of banknotes, where drawing motifs and portraits is akin to fine art to some extent.

  • Beautiful and fresh (and they remind me of a project we did a few years ago for a pixellated wall mural in Barrow: http://www.unitedcreatives.com/public-art/article.php?articleid=421)

  • Dave

    Nice, modern. Made me think of Minecraft.

  • cristiane dias

    very very beautiful and cutting edge!

  • Matt

    Single sided? 😉

  • dashor

    Sorry but this doesn’t cut it for me…

    Where is the symbolism? Where is the national heritage? Where are the historic reminders? This just looks incredibly empty, soulless design for the sake of creating beautiful imagery, but nothing else.

  • PatrickBurgoyne

    @ dashor
    “Where is the symbolism? Where is the national heritage? Where are the historic reminders?”
    Erm, on the other side?

  • aeioux

    You guys at Creative Review were too lazy to show the different lengths of the banknotes…..? Poor show.

  • Disgruntled Peon

    @ dashor

    Uh… The symbolism?

    Ahem: Norway is a country in the north atlantic, part of which extends above the arctic circle. It has a beautiful coastline with multiple fjords and protected harbors. Due to this, Norway has a LOT of coastline. Scattered throughout Norway, there are buildings from the Viking days. The Vikings were great mariners (that ship on the 100kr note looks viking-like, btw). The oil fund pays for a lot of social programs… the oil comes from the sea.

    The theme itself – the sea – does this stuff. I’m not an expert, I’ve only been in Norway a bit over a year, but I see this stuff. Now, if you are set on historical figureheads and buildings on money, then none of this is really going to do it for you, I understand.

  • PatrickBurgoyne

    @ aeioux
    And I guess you were too lazy to read the story properly

  • Queen Meanie

    I liked the second set! Especially the wave!

  • A

    Havent been on CR blog for a while good to see snarky-ism is still prevalent. Feels like home,.
    PS, love the pixelated sides, nice to see a country try something fresh while still keeping it relevant

  • Angry norwegian

    that pixelated crap has got to be the worst design i’ve seen on a norwegian bank note since i was born.. in 35 years i have yet to experience something as bad as that.. the other side though is very good. it doesn’t weigh up for the attempt to play minecraft while working.. Booo Snøhetta..

  • U Easterbrook

    as much as I think the abstract notes are passable, I’m really much more attuned to the realistic, wonderful representations of the other (?metric) notes.

  • These are pretty special – much better than the usual run of the mill famous historical character

  • Not a fan of the pixelated side, but the reverse is beautiful.

  • jay

    @christiane dias
    cutting edge? i don’t think so.
    But this is! dutch money from 1985.
    http://bit.ly/ZC66ur

  • Matt

    I always thought the Euro was a missed opportunity – such a dull design.

    I think these are great, bold and practical designs.

  • Yes I think I agree with Chris Edmunds, really fresh looking design to historically predictable medium.