Why can’t the dollar look like this? Norway’s Krone gets an 8-bit makeover

blending past future norway gets pixelated new series banknotes norges bank snohetta beauty boundaries
Norway's central bank has chosen a pixel motif for new banknotes that will debut in 2017. The design, which will grace the reverse side, was created by Snohetta.
The greenback may be the world’s most recognizable form of paper currency, but its conservatism also makes it one of the least innovative, at least from a design standpoint. Compare it to the new bills unveiled by Norway’s central bank, the U.S. dollar’s image starts to look a bit drab. (H/t Slate.)

Norges Bank held a design competition earlier this year for new banknotes that will be put into circulation in 2017. “The purpose of the competition was to arrive at a proposal that can be the artistic basic for the design of the new banknote series and communicate the theme, ‘The Sea,’ in an appropriate manner,” the bank writes. Eight finalists made the shortlist, and Norges Bank decided to choose two winning designs, including one that “give the notes both a traditional and modern expression.”

The front (obverse) of the note will feature a design by Metric System and Terje Tønnessen, called “Norwegian Living Space,” which Norges Bank describes the drawings as “finely detailed, but communicate a rather idyllic and secure image of Norway,” and communicates “various aspects of the sea and its importance for Norway’s business sector and economic prosperity.” Although another design, “Ripple Effects” by Enzo Finger, was more popular with judges, Norges Bank says it chose Metric/Tønnessen’s because it can “incorporate necessary security elements.”

The front design for a future series of banknotes in Norway features a more traditional drawing.
The front design for a future series of banknotes in Norway features a more traditional drawing.

Related: Apple hires renowned designer Marc Newson to work with Jony Ive

Snohetta's original submission uses photos for the front and a complementing pixel motif on the back. Norges Bank rejected the front design, but chose the pixel motif.
Snøhetta’s original submission uses photos for the front and a complementing pixel motif on the back. Norges Bank rejected the front design, but chose the pixel motif.

The back (reverse) is where things get radical. A nod to our digital age, Norges Bank chose a pixel motif design (“Beauty of Boundaries“) by Snøhetta, a Norwegian/American architectural firm known for designing the National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion and the extension to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. “The alternative form of expression of the pixel motifs supports each sub-theme,” Norges Bank writes. “In this way, there is a connection between the obverse and reverse faces and the story that the banknotes tell. The wave pattern that repeats itself in the pixel motifs provides an appropriate allusion to the main theme ‘The Sea.’”

The coloring of each denomination blends the two designs together, which will also help the visually impaired better identify the notes. The final designs will look a bit different, as “motifs and designs need to be worked on to enable security elements intended for the public and machine-readable security elements to be designed and incorporated into the notes.”

The beautiful blend of traditional and modern imagery demonstrates what happens when you entrust the design process to creative experts. Norway’s future banknotes celebrate the modern era without forgetting the past. Still, as progressive as the designs are, we doubt they’ll usurp the U.S. dollar’s prominence anytime soon.

(Images via Norges Bank, Snøhetta)

Movies & TV

Alan Tudyk's K-2SO confirmed for Disney Plus' Star Wars: Rogue One series

Diego Luna will reprise his role from 2016's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story for an upcoming television series on Disney's streaming video platform. The series will explore rebel spy Cassian Andor's early adventures, with Alan Tudyk returning…
Home Theater

What’s new on Hulu in May 2019, and what’s leaving soon

Our complete list of what's new on Hulu for May 2019, our personal favorites, and which titles will be removed will help you catch up on all the site has to offer -- and ensure you don't miss any titles heading into the streaming ether.
Home Theater

What’s new on Amazon Prime Video and what’s leaving in May 2019

Amazon Prime Video adds new titles each month that are available for free to all Prime members. Check out our list to find all the content hitting Amazon Prime Video in April and May, from new original series to classic films.
Mobile

The Samsung Galaxy Fold won’t sell unlocked, but here’s where it’s available

The Samsung Galaxy Fold boasts top-tier specs in a groundbreaking and unique design, and as such it makes sense that you might want to get the phone for yourself. Here are all the places you can get the Galaxy Fold for yourself.
Photography

Go for bokeh, not for broke with the best cameras under $1,000

Looking for a great camera without spending more than $1,000? From the stellar Fujifilm X-T30 to the beginner-friendly Canon EOS Rebel T7i, here are the best sub-$1,000 cameras on the market right now.
Photography

These are the best camera straps you can get your hands on

Choosing the right camera strap for your needs can be a tough decision. To help sort through the junk, we've rounded up the best camera straps on the market for you to choose from.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Halfbikes, VR for all your senses, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Photography

Fujifilm X-T30 vs. Sony A6400: Midrange mirrorless cameras compared

The Fujifilm X-T30 and Sony A6400 are two of the best cameras you can buy for under $1,000, but which should you choose? Each has an edge in certain situations which makes picking a winner difficult, but here's how they compare.
Photography

Photography news: Sony brings Eye Autofocus to critters via A.I.

In this week's photography news, the Sony a7 III and a7R III have some new capabilities, thanks to updated firmware. Lexar teases a crazy fast 1,000MB/s memory card, while Vimeo launches bulk upload possibilities.
Product Review

Equal parts tool and toy, the Lensbaby Edge 35 bucks photographic tradition

The Lensbaby Edge 35, part of the Composer Pro optic swap system, creates tilt-shift-like blur without the tilt-shift price. Made for photographers who want find tradition boring, it opens up new ways to work with blur.
Deals

The best budget-friendly GoPro alternatives that won’t leave you broke

Cold weather is here, and a good action camera is the perfect way to record all your adventures. You don't need to shell out the big bucks for a GoPro: Check out these great GoPro alternatives, including some 4K cameras, that won’t leave…
Photography

Etch-A-Snap camera puts a modern spin on one of your favorite childhood toys

Can't draw on an Etch A Sketch? Snap a photo with the Etch-A-Snap and the camera will draw out the scene for you. The weirdly cool camera designed by Martin Fitzpatrick replaces the usual LCD screen with an old-school Etch A Sketch.
Photography

The Black Eye Pro Cinema Wide G4 is a knockout lens for any smartphone

Where cheaper wide-angle accessory lenses add distortion, and costlier models don't always justify their higher prices, the Black Eye Pro Cinema Wide G4 offers a valuable balance of modest price and high quality optics.
Photography

Family feud: Huawei P30 Pro vs. P20 Pro vs. Mate 20 Pro camera shootout

The Huawei P30 Pro's camera has an amazing zoom mode and low light capabilities. But take these away, and how does it compare when facing its sibling phones, the P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro, taking regular photos?