Blame it on the advent of plasticization, single currencies or the rise of digital money. But many paper currencies remain deeply idiosyncratic, patriotic displays of the wealth and culture of a nation, adorned with great faces and timeless moments.
Many brands and corporations have greater GDPs, more assets and a higher headcount than some small countries — so perhaps it makes sense for them to print their own money.
In a new set of illustrations entitled “Brand Currency,” the French designer conjures up a future where the likes of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have become the new Darwins and Franklins.
“Banknote aesthetics are really linked to the richness of culture, history and personalities of their countries,” he said in an e-mail interview.
Below, Dalloul discusses currency, capitalism and cash.
CNN: Jade, how did the idea come about?
Jade Dalloul: Seeing countries electing CEOs for presidents, and countries behaving like companies was the genesis.
CNN: How important is aesthetic in designing a banknote — what is this visual language telling us?
JD: Banknote aesthetics are really linked to the richness of culture, history and personalities of their countries. On top of that, you have the anti-counterfeiting elements that take (up) a lot of space.
CNN: What do banknotes tell us about the countries they come from?
JD: A banknote is a unique object where all the values of a country is summarized. With this starting point, doing a branded banknote is about being coherent with all the values of a brand as if it were a country. Using mission statements as if they were a state or motto.
CNN: As a European, what do you read into the imagery on a Euro note?
JD: The Euro note is a great example of embracing imagery to suit all the countries that will use it. Using bridges instead of personalities is a remarkable way to avoid conflicts between different cultures while at the same time symbolizing unification.
CNN: And how does it differ to the old French franc?
JD: The old French franc follows the traditional pattern of a national currency: using history, personalities.
CNN: This project is all about brands — what role do you think brands play in modern society? Are they growing in importance?
JD: I’m a daily customer and a user of services and products like Facebook, Gmail and Apple, so I started asking myself if I could stand a single day without using any of these brands. It’s getting more difficult day after day.
CNN: What do you think about this modern generation of superstar CEOs?
JD: In a way they give hope to younger generations — they show that it’s possible to achieve a lot being young.
CNN: Which company or personality intrigues you the most?
JD: Answering the previous question, I had in mind Elon Musk. He has had a great career path, from Paypal to Space X through Hyperloop… and he’s still only 46.
CNN: Are there any that you find particularly worrying?
JD: I’m both fascinated and worried about Google, because they manage almost every step of Internet services. But the most surprising fact is that they started only 19 years ago.
CNN: Who do you think we’ll see on the banknotes of the future?
JD: I think the future of banknotes will (see) more and more anti-counterfeiting features like the transparent part on the new British five pound note. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some influential young entrepreneurs becoming part of history of their countries.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.