Design agency One Rise East has created a set of 26 coins to represent an A to Z of modern-day Britain, as an alternative to the collection released by the Royal Mint.
The Royal Mint recently released its A to Z of Britain 10 pence coins, which aim to celebrate the best of British culture today.
But One Rise East‘s team felt these offered a “tired and somewhat dated” view of the UK, so has designed its own collection, which it describes as “a little less quintessential”.
“The coins aimed to celebrate all things quintessentially British. However we felt the project was lacking in ambition and really predictable, especially when you consider that the selection seems to represent a Britain from 60 years ago,” Rich Watters, lead creative at One Rise East, told Dezeen.
The Royal Mint’s 26 coins run through the alphabet, with subjects including cricket, tea, double-decker buses and zebra crossings.
Looking at this collection, Watters and his team asked: “Who is this quintessential for?”
This helped them come with a series of alternatives. They chose EastEnders actor Danny Dyer for D, documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux for L, a Yorkshire pudding for Y and singer David Bowie’s alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, for Z.
They also picked Brexit for B, Marmite for M, Pint for P and broadcaster David Attenborough for A, who is represented by an image of the nepenthes attenboroughii plant that was named after him.
“There’s a wealth of cultural aspects to the UK that we felt were missing, some of them serious, some of them plain silly,” said Watters. “Without the need for the royal stamp of approval, we were able to express this overcast but brilliant nation a little more freely.”
Only one emblem chosen by the Royal Mint was left unchanged: the N coin representing the National Health Service – which the designers picked as a favourite.
“Our favourites are overcast, our wonderful NHS (the only one we actually agreed with the Royal Mint on), shopping trolleys in a river for T, and Danny Dyer for D (who is actual royalty),” the designers told Dezeen.
The team also named Irn-Bru for I, a voting slip for X and the late Stephen Hawkings for H among their favourites.
One Rise East chose to use the British Gill Sans Regular font for its “legibility and culturally relevancy”.
They then created the Not My Money campaign – a “tongue-in-cheek protest” – to showcase the project. It consists of a series of posters that highlight the agency’s lack of enthusiasm for the original coin design.
The studio hopes the redesign will change the minds of those who consider the Royal Mint coins to be an authentic representation of the UK.
Other notable examples of contemporary currency design include the Norwegian banknotes designed by architecture studio Snøhetta and the special-edition notes that Jeremy Deller created for local currency the Brixton Pound.