Norway's new Banknotes
The Beauty of Boundaries


Graphic & Digital


In 2014, The Central Bank of Norway appointed Snøhetta and Metric Design with illustrator Terje Tønnessen to design the new paper currency. Reflecting the importance of the sea to the Norwegian national identity and prosperity, the new banknotes introduce this powerful symbolism to one of the country’s most significant identity markers: its currency. The step away from using famous Norwegians on the currency might be seen as a radical move away from the tradition. But the thematic approach is in many ways a more democratic starting point for the visual universe of the banknotes.

Technical details


Norges Bank – The Central Bank of Norway

Beauty of boundaries

Snøhetta’s design explores the concept “the beauty of boundaries”, so characteristic along the entire Norwegian coastline – the boundaries between sea and land, between land and air and between air and sea. By linking the coastline metaphor with a graphical expression that has drawn inspiration from ancient mosaics as well as the mosaics of our time: the pixels. In this sense, the design represents boundaries as a travel in time: a travel between old and new, past and present.

Snøhetta’s design proposal is represented on one side of the banknotes, with Metric Design/Terje Tønnessen’s design proposal on the other. The design proposals were adapted by the Central Bank of Norway to comply with strict security measures.

Photo: Calle Huth

Photo: Calle Huth

Referencing the Beaufort scale

The undulating waves and pixilated patterns of the note vary from each specific banknote design, whether a 50, 100, 200, 500 or 1000 kroner note, by referencing the Beaufort scale which measures wind speed. On the 50 kroner note the wind is gentle, represented by a dense cubic patterning and long, tame waves in a subtle organic wave pattern. On the other side of the scale, the 1 000 kroner note is characterized by a strong wind, expressed through long, pixelated cubes and short, choppy waves.

Photo: Snøhetta

Photo: Calle Huth

Banknotes are symbols of a nation. Through its wide distribution and rapid switching of hands, with 124,2 million banknotes in circulation in Norway just last year, the banknotes are perhaps the most social design of our time. The banknotes connect people and create value as people meet to exchange them – a value that far outweighs the note’s material worth.

Photo: Calle Huth