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New Norwegian banknotes inspired by the sea

"The world’s most beautiful banknotes» have been designed in part by star architect- and design firm Snøhetta and offers a completely new take on international banknotes.

All five denominations in the new banknote series feature the sea as the theme, reflecting its importance to Norway. The portraitures are replaced with maritime icons, and with one theme binding all the motifs on the banknotes together, a coherent story is told. "The sea's importance for Norway's business sector and economic prosperity" is the story of a key element in the Norwegian economy, our history and national identity.


Norway is a small country but a major maritime and coastal nation. Norway's long, gnarled coastline has shaped the identity of Norwegians individually and as a nation. The use of marine resources, combined with the use of the sea as a transport artery, has been crucial to the development of Norwegian society. It is therefore very approriate that our new banknotes pay tribute to this history.


In terms of design, the banknotes offer a combination of the retrospective and the abstract. Each denomination features an easily recognizable primary motif on its obverse side, which communicates central characteristics of Norwegian maritime history. The pixelated reverse side of the banknotes contrasts with the obverse sides and the motifs are merely suggested in the cubic pattern. The organic pattern is an abstract depiction of the sea.


In addition to "The Sea" as the overall theme, there are individual sub-themes for each denomination:


The final design proposals were made by Metric Design and Terje Tønnessen for the obverse side and Snøhetta for the reversed side. Norges Bank’s own banknote designers, Arild Yttri and Morten Johansen then translated the design into “banknote idiom”. The translation included designing the important security features needed on banknotes, a demanding task to incorporate in such a way as to make the banknote beautiful, yet meet all the technical requirements.  Click this link to see the whole process in video format.