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An exploratory exercise in
Currency Design









The Project

Design Brief

On 8 November 2016, the Government of India announced the demonetization of all ₹500 and ₹1,000 banknotes of the Mahatma Gandhi Series. It also announced the issuance of new ₹500 and ₹2,000 banknotes in exchange for the demonetized banknotes. Over the span of next few months, new notes of Rs 10, 20, 50,100, 200 were also induced in the circulation.

Though the intention is appreciated, there is a lot of concern, debate, reviews expressed by the citizens of India not only for the move but also for the colors and designs.

Our approach

We started thinking what goes into a currency design as a project and we embarked on a study. We took time to understand people's views on currency notes so far. We looked at the currency designs pre-independence, post independence and then through the decades. We also studied currencies of various countries in terms of their visual appeal, use of visuals, colors typography etc.

We considered and analysed Feel (Sense of pride, growth, protection and freedom), Function (Availability, Accessibility especially for visually impaired and Transacting), Form (Size, Material/Substrate) Features (Security, Ease of carrying/use, Recognition), Visuals (Personalities, Patterns, other textual elements and content). And we asked ourselves, can we re-imagine the Indian Currency Design? The currency has to symbolise new and growing India while reflecting the principles of democracy like tolerance, inclusion, freedom, growth, promise, pride, and protection.

The design should be able to tackle problems like durability, hoarding, counterfeiting and corruption. Visually impaired people should also be able to use these currencies with same ease as others.

This project was initiated as a part of a competition that didnt take off for reasons unknown to us. We continued to process purely as a creative exploration process and wanted to see where we reach.

During our research phase we found that people were open to seeing visuals that they can relate to. People wanted to see faces of leaders that have worked for the Nation, for the People. The conversations ranged from being enriching to being hilarious. But at the end, we knew we had a direction. Studying the different printing processes used, we conceptualised the designs that included major milestones like Mission to Mars, Pride of our Nation - Dr APJ Kalam, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, along with other features that are included in a currency note.