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Norway's new banknotes are a beautifully pixelated blur

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In the finest of democratic traditions, Norway's next series of banknotes will incorporate two designs into one harmonious union. Having earlier this year invited eight design studios to contribute ideas, Norges Bank has selected the blocky and abstract work of Snøhetta for the reverse of its new notes and the more traditionally artful depictions from The Metric System for the front.

The theme that was set for this task was simply "the sea," which has been represented by Snøhetta in the form of highly pixelated coastal landscapes. One of the interesting themes that runs through the design is how the wind of the sea intensifies in sync with the value of the note, resulting in square, static blocks on the 50 kroner note and elongated strips of color on the 1,000 kroner note. It's an unashamedly modern style that the designers intentionally built around pixels in the belief that they are "our time's visual language."

norwegian kroner

The Metric System takes a more literal approach by just presenting beautiful drawings of ships, fish, a lighthouse, and a family by the sea, providing a neat juxtaposition with Snøhetta's abstractions. What's more, says Norges Bank, the more classic design on the front is better suited to integrating the necessary security components without making them obtrusive. So it seems like the perfect marriage between abstract and realistic, young motifs and old. The winning submissions from Snøhetta and The Metric System form the basis for the final design of Norway's 2017 release of new banknotes.

Make sure to check out the PDF containing all the proposals submitted to Norges Bank. One of them even includes children's doodles of the sea and is actually quite endearing.

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