Money used to be a beautiful thing. Much of the design of
currency emerged out of national pride, political expression and a
need to prevent forgery.
Paper currency was first invented by the Chinese, who were also
innovators in paper making and printing. The invention of paper was
ascribed to Ts'ai Lun in 105 A.D., and remained exclusively in
China for the next 500 years. The technology finally spread to
Korea in the 7th Century, travelling to the Arab world in the 8th
Century, and arriving in Europe in the 12th Century, where it was
stalled by religious prejudice. Papermaking was only really
established, then, in Italy at the end of the 13th Century and in
France and Germany in the following century.
Swiss currency, featuring Le Corbusier and Sri Lanka
Movable type was also a Chinese creation, attributed to an 11th
century alchemist named Wang Chen. Rather impractical for thousands
and thousands of Chinese characters, movable type did not make
notable impact until the creation of the Gutenberg's Bible, in
Norwegian currency, featuring Norwegian Noble Prize
author Sigrid Undset
According to the book The Art of Money, the first
government-backed paper money in western civilization was used in
1690 to pay soldiers returning from an unsuccessful assault on
Quebec, and hundreds of years earlier in China, also in connection
with military problems. The book also claims that the printing of
paper money financed both the American and the French Revolutions.
In short, argues the author, money was hugely influenced by
Republic of Maldives
Today it seems to me that we try to sterilize money by keeping
it completely removed from the idea that we're actually spending
it. Cash has become a hassle and I largely try to keep my spending
to the swiping of cards. There's nothing fun about the exchange of
bank notes or ? even worst ? coins; There's also very little effort
(generally speaking) in designing our credit cards or the
experience of using them.
In fact, current trends are trying to make the experience of
purchasing almost invisible.Applications like iTunes and Amazon
have made the purchasing process complete with at a click of the
button. PayPal, a leading online payment platform, has
recently created an iPhone application that allows
users to make financial transactions simply by bumping phones
together. As compelling as the idea is, I can't help but wonder
whether it's smart to make spending money such a transparent
Cook Islands currency
It isn't that I don't love the idea of making money exchanges
easy. I'm just suggesting that we might be able to design the
moment of exchange a little more. It matters because we all love
beautiful things, and because, if designed well, we might be more
careful and aware when we make that exchange ? a process that the
last few months have taught us we could certainly improve on.
U.S. $10 bill with Franklin, his kite and the figure of
Liberty riding a soaring eagle, 1901
Many of us spend much of our careers thinking about selling and
how to make people spend. I just thought we could take a moment to
think about designing the specific event that all clients strive
towards and that we engage in every single day.
We certainly don't need a war to innovate - just the desire to make a difference.
Tali Krakowsky is the founder of experience design studio Apologue. Read more about the new venture here.