Norway’s central bank, Norges Bank, has selected designs from Snøhetta and The Metric System, a graphic-design studio in Oslo, Norway, to be the new face of its banknotes.
The designs were chosen from those of eight finalists in an open design competition held by the bank earlier this year. Participants were asked to re-imagine the paper version of the national currency, the Norwegian kroner, in a way that communicates the theme of “the sea.”
The five-person jury, which included one bank member, originally chose two proposals: “Ripple Effects,” by graphic designer Enzo Finger, and “Norwegian Living Space,” by The Metric System and designer Terje Tønnessen. However, Norges Bank ultimately overturned the jury’s decision and swapped out Finger’s designs for a submission by Snøhetta. Finger is a well-known figure in Norway’s design community and has previously won design competitions held by the bank. View his designs here.
The bank’s chosen designs will be further developed before each are implemented on separate sides of the new kroner—Snøhetta’s obscure, colorful pixels on the back and The Metric System’s more literal historical references on the front.
According to a Snøhetta press release, its proposal, “The Beauty of Boundaries,” was built around ideas by German physicist Peter Richter and alludes to the Norwegian coastline. To achieve variation in its pixelated patterns, the firm utilized the Beaufort scale, which measures wind speed. The firm says that the designs’ small cubes and relaxed waves represent a gentle wind while its longer, sharper forms indicate a stronger gust. “The cubical pattern constructs the coast, the horizon, and the motive; just as we humans construct the societies on the coast,” Snøhetta wrote in a press release.
The firm’s recent work includes the release of final designs for a new Central Library in Calgary, Alberta, Canada; an expansion to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the construction of the National September 11 Memorial Museum and Pavilion in New York, which opened in May.
The Metric System, based in Oslo, took a more literal approach with their proposal “Norwegian Living Space” to symbolize the theme of the sea, employing imagery signature to Scandinavia such as a lighthouse, arctic goat farms, fish, and Viking ships, adorned with the kroner value and serial numbers.
The new series of banknotes will replace the almost two-decade-old designs for the 50-, 200-, 500-, and 1000-krone notes that depict influential Norwegians such as forester Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, opera singer Kirsten Flagstad, scientist Kristian Birkeland, Nobel Prize–winning novelist Sigrid Undset, and painter Edvard Munch.
All of the competition proposals will be showcased at the gallery space of Grafill, a promotional organization for those who train and work in visual communications, in Oslo from Oct. 7 to Oct. 26, at an exhibition titled “Norway’s New Banknote Series: The Sea.” The first bills in the series will be released in 2017.