October 22, 2003

New money

I had occasion last night to acquire one of the new $20 bills. Kind of a letdown, really. I guess that they're trying to ease people gently into the idea of coloured money, but in fact these are just slightly-redesigned old 20s printed on coloured paper. The picture, the outlines, the numbers, they're all in monochrome black on the front and monochrome green on the back, just as they've always been. The design on the back is utterly unchanged except for a bunch of tiny yellow 20s floating around the sides. On the front the only difference is that the portrait is no longer framed by an oval---though they use the same exact engraving---and the number 20 in three corners is outline, not filled in. That's it! It's printed on paper that is a fade from green to peach to green, with a blue eagle on the left. Seen from any distance, you'd assume that any colouration was just a trick of the light. And the main purpose of coloured bills---being able to see at a glance what's in your wallet---is sort of defeated by just how muted the colours are.

Ah well. In eight years, when the next redesign rolls around, people will be sufficiently used to the idea of coloured money that we will be able to introduce bills that are actually coloured. That'll be nice.

"There's the old axiom in design that says, `Less is more.' They should have that printed on the outside of the PowerPoint box. It needs a warning label." --Larry Nighswander, director, OSU School of Visual Communications

Posted by blahedo at 10:57pm on 22 Oct 2003
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