Rebranding the Buck

I know what you're thinking... what happened to George Washington?!?

Absolutely hate the look of some of the new U.S. currency? If you think that the appearance of our legal tender will change anytime soon, don’t hold your breath, but it’s an interesting concept to consider. For the past two years, the Dollar Rede$ign Project has been holding a design competition to bring a new look and face to U.S. legal tender. Richard Smith, a creative consultant who conceived and presently organizes the Dollar Rede$ign Project, argues that a redesign of U.S. currency would lift the hearts and minds of citizens while rebuilding confidence in the fledgling economy.

The variety of entries both this year and last present a number of interesting concepts, paying homage to a number of historical figures and events. While many of the decisions seem personally driven, many seem carefully thought out to appeal to a wide range of people. Entries range dramatically in design and style, from reserved to radical. A few historical figures popping up on some entries include Martin Luther King, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, Eleanor Roosevelt and Marilyn Monroe. While it’s interesting to see some nods to modern American history and achievements, many examples omit any sense of the wider breadth of U.S. history.

Entries by design studio Dowling Duncan (above) appear to be the most carefully though out. Some aspects of their redesign include bills in different lengths and colors in a vertical format.

“You tend to hold a wallet or purse vertically… people hand over notes vertically when making purchases. All machines accept notes vertically. Therefore a vertical note makes more sense.” (Dowling Duncan)

Taking each bills’ design one step further, images on each bill are directly related to their value in one way or another: Obama, the nation’s first black president is the face of the one-dollar bill; the Bill of Rights, composed of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, are listed on the ten-dollar bill; recognition of the 50 states in the union on the fifty-dollar bill.

“We wanted a concept behind the imagery so that the image directly relates to the value of each note. We also wanted the notes to be educational, not only for those living in America but visitors as well.” (Dowling Duncan)

Visit the Dollar ReDe$ign Project for yourself for more information and other entries.

Ecomagine Your Energy Use

Home Energy Use Calculator

This morning I woke up, made myself a pot of coffee and headed downstairs to get a start on the day ahead. A little later I found out that my laptop costs roughly half as much to operate annually as my coffee machine … funny.

Lisa Strausfeld, Pentagram partner and her team recently worked with GE to develop a Home Appliance Energy Use calculator. Launched on Earth Day, the calculator can be found at either GE’s Ecomagination or the Healthymagination website. Not only is beautifully simple in its design and easy to understand, the calculator is also very informative, giving detailed information on how much energy and resources dozens of common household appliances consume, as well as the cost associated with operating them.

A set of drop down menus allow viewers to obtain detailed information on each appliance’s energy use in watts, gallons of gas or dollars to operate over the timeframe of a day, month or year. Appliances are also ranked according to their energy needs. As operational costs for these appliances varies regionally, viewers can even select which state they would like to see the results for.

Blue stars next to various appliance icons indicate Energy Star alternatives while green stars invite the viewer to take a closer look at how quickly an Energy Star appliance would pay for itself when replacing an older appliance. Users can determine a rough daily, monthly or annual total cost in watts, gallons of gas or dollars for appliance use by deselecting appliances from the available list or view an estimated cost for a singular appliance by scrolling over individual icons.

Don’t forget to turn the lights off!