Two graduates show how easy it is to design banknotes that actually represent the UK

With a 50/50 gender split and a focus on the four territories

With the Bank of England preparing for the launch of plastic £5 notes in 2016, two young designers are calling the proposed design of the new note a “lost opportunity.” Rather than criticise and do nothing about it, Oscar Daws and Matthew Durbin have re-imagined all the notes from a fiver to £50, throwing away the more antiquated look and opting for something decidedly cleaner and more modern. And refreshingly gender equal.

Oscar called the current bank notes designs “fragmented and confusing” as England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland all use different designs. He said we’re “behind the design curve” with countries like Norway designing beautiful notes.

The pair decided that best course of action was “to design a set of banknotes for the whole of the UK that everyone, from north to south, would be proud to use.” As a result, their designs feature noteworthy (pun intended) figures from Wales, Scotland, England, and Northern Ireland with portraits accompanied by an image and graphic related to their work.

For Wales they’ve chosen father of the NHS Aneurin Bevan, for England the Queen, for Scotland BBC Director-General Lord Reith, and for Northern Ireland kickass scientist Dame Jocelyn Bell. On the reverse of each note is a distinctive area from each part of the country’s landscape – much more interesting (and fair) than what we have now.

When all the notes are brought together, they form an image of the union flag, “signifying that the UK is one nation, and one people” – and syncing up nicely with the new coin designs that come together to form a shield.

It’s refreshing to see a design that represents the entirety of the UK, with an equal balance between men and women (although we’d have liked to see some people of colour too). Perhaps Oscar and Matthew should have been commissioned to design our new passports, since they’ve done a better job with this already.


Main Image © iStock/p1images