It has to be one of the ultimate design briefs. To work on something that touches all of our lives, is handled by millions on a daily basis and that reflects our nation, our heritage and our future.
Perhaps all the more amazing then that the Royal Mint decided to run the project to redesign its coins as a competition. I can certainly understand why though, after all it’s a win/win situation for them. Either they get a fantastic design (for free!), or if the standard of entries had been poor, they could have simply gone to a design agency after all.
Interestingly, it was a professional graphic designer who submitted the winning entry. 26 year old Matthew Dent came up with the idea of taking the Shield of the Royal Arms and splitting the emblem across the 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p and 50p coins. The £1 coin features the complete shield.
So, what do we think? Well, I admire the concept. It’s a clever idea – more than just a ‘pretty picture’ solution – and I love the fact that when all the coinage is assembled it makes up the entire shield, gives a nice interactive feel to our currency. I’m just not so sure that the coin design works individually and this is after all, how they will be seen the great majority of the time.
A case of a great idea on paper, but that doesn’t work so well in the real world? Well, maybe, but I admire the Royal Mint’s bravery in choosing a design that is both fresh and traditional. We’re presuming that they weren’t brave enough to suggest anything other than the Queen’s head for the front of each coin...