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A fusion of contradictions

Adrian Heuberger and Manuela Pfrunder, December 2015

A banknote must be both reproducible and unreproducible.

It must be reproducible for the security printer who produces it – in large quantities and as efficiently as possible. By contrast, it cannot be reproducible for all those who are not authorised to produce banknotes – in other words, everyone except for the security printer who produces it.


A banknote should be free of normative statements. Nonetheless, everything illustrated on it will automatically be interpreted as a cultural norm of the country in which the banknote is used as a means of payment.


Create something new – without creating something new.

Although the design of a new series of banknotes should always appear more modern than its predecessor, it is also expected that the design of a banknote take its cue from established – and therefore non-modern – traditions and conventions. This is how a seemingly paradox requirement arises: the notion that designers should render banknotes more modern while employing non-modern design methods.


These three contradictory concepts are omnipresent in the design of a new banknote, so that designers of banknotes cannot avoid reconciling themselves with them – to the extent that they even become a source of inspiration.


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