These reimagined British banknote designs aim to bring together our nations

Two designers want to put cleaner designs on our notes that represent England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – and combine to make the Union Jack.


A graduate duo has responded to proposals for the new plastic UK currency by offering a rethink and replacement on what should be featured on the money.

The Bank of England is preparing to launch new plastic notes in 2016, but a pair of London-based designers say the proposed design, featuring Winston Churchill, is an opportunity lost.

But are the choices they've made more relevant and 'true to UK heritage' ?

Oscar Daws and Matthew Durbin, recent graduates from Brunel University London re-imagined all notes from the humble fiver to the £50 from the ground up.

Daws and Durbin were originally set the brief as part of their course but became so fired up by the challenge they have set themselves the task of redesigning banknotes for the United Kingdom - based on the currency denominations of the Bank of England.

The duo said they had thrown away many of the "antiquated aesthetic features" in favour of what they think is “a cleaner, more relevant design language that nonetheless stays true to UK heritage”.


The UK has various banks or authorities which are authorised to print pound sterling banknotes, in addition to the Bank of England, but the duo think this state of affairs is too complicated

“Bank note design in the UK is fragmented and confusing," said Oscar. "Currently England, Scotland and Northern Ireland all use completely different designs."

Norway has just commissioned some beautiful notes, but as a country we’re behind the design curve on this.”

“Against the backdrop of devolution and the vote against Scottish independence we set ourselves a somewhat controversial brief: to design a set of banknotes for the whole of the UK that everyone, from north to south, would be proud to use.”

“The front faces celebrate individuals from each of the four countries who have made an outstanding contribution to the nation. Each portrait is accompanied by an image and graphic relating to their work."

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“For Wales it is the father of the NHS, Aneurin Bevan," said Oscar.


"For England, the Queen due to her commitment to the Commonwealth," explained Oscar.


"For Scotland, Lord Reith, the first and arguably most influential Director-General of the BBC," he added.

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"And for Northern Ireland, Dame Jocelyn Bell one of the UK’s foremost female scientists."


"When all the notes, representing all the countries, are placed together the Union Jack is formed - signifying that the UK is one nation, and one people,” said Matthew.

“The reverse of each note shows an iconic landscape from the country represented. As an island nation, the UK's security and prosperity has always been dependent on the relationship with, and knowledge of, the country’s natural environment - as such, a map of each feature is overlaid subtly onto each photograph."

“The project started out for a university graphics module, but after a lot of research it quickly became more than that. UK banknotes are some of the most ubiquitous pieces of design in use today, but very few ever consider the meaning behind the graphics."


The designs are well-thought out and beautifully presented.

However as Oscar and Matthew suggest, the whole project could be seen as controversial, just as the choice of Winston Churchill was, when it was decided the former PM would replace the current image of prison reformer Elizabeth Fry on the BoE fiver.

So it's a great showcase for the considerable skills of Daws and Durbin, but who would you choose to be the faces on sterling? Or would you redesign this redesign completely?

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