What is the actual value of money? What is the (added) value of graphic design on coins and banknotes? How do these designs literally shape the image of money in contemporary society? And what is therefore the position of designers in this society? These questions form the base of Valuable Design: an on-going research project initiated by graphic design office Multitude and independent design researcher Lisa Goudsmit in 2014.

This project was provoked by the financial crisis of Europe and its Euro. The keyword in this crisis is ‘trust’: trusting neighbours, government and money. Modern people in Western society are used to assigning value to specifically designed pieces of paper for centuries long. We are programmed to trust upon the value of an almost worthless material.

Today there are basically two kinds of forms of payment: fiduciary and scriptural money. Coins and banknotes are fiduciary money; scriptural money is value on the bank that can be executed as fiduciary forms of payment. Banknotes have a non-intrinsically and symbolic value: it refers to a non-existing value set by the government, and accepted by everyone who uses it.

The Euro, introduced in 2002, is designed using the theme ‘building bridges’, in this way connecting different countries. However, the Euro-design is questionable. Did the constant process of compromises between participating counties kill the originality of the Euro-banknotes? How strong is a form of payment that is too scared to make a bold statement? Valuable Design wants to provoke answers to these questions by creating a new Euro-design. Here you find designs of 1000 Euro-bills of the designers of Multitude: Rozemarijn Koopmans, Nick Topp and David de Zwart. The 1000 Euro bill does not exist, but it is possible that it will be introduced in the future.




Nick Topp:

Servers as buildings and distributed networks as bridges. This 1000 Euro bill addresses data and dataflow as contemporary European architecture and infrastructure, intertwined in both the monetary and social European system. The stature of a server as a living building, providing room for communication connection and exchange.



David de Zwart:

Boats and trains (a reference to Cassandre’s iconic Art Deco posters) to and through the EU are ways to bridge the gap between war and peace. The other side of this bill displays the bricks of Fort Europe, with the map of North Africa and the Middle East fading away into the sea.

Rozemarijn Koopmans:

The European Council’s new head quarters – nicknamed ‘Van Rompuy’s Egg’, after its commissioner –  has been described a desperate attempt to improve Europe’s image. The Europa (its official name) will serve as a transparent ‘lantern after dark’. As no individual can spend a physical €1000 note (stores will usually refuse notes from €200 and up), this €1000-note is what the Europa is in terms of architecture: a showpony.

© Image & text courtesy of Multitude

Full article is available in Platea N°1