by Manuela Pfrunder, Chief Design Officer at Noteworthy
and Designer of the Ninth Series Swiss Franc
When the team at Noteworthy called to ask if I’d be interested in designing a bitcoin banknote, it was an easy “Yes.” Their mission and vision to create a top-of-the-line physical representation of a digital currency is innovative, inspiring, and no easy feat. As Noteworthy’s Chief Design Officer, I had the challenging task of developing a product that perfectly marries past and future, utility, and style.
Because of its complexity, Noteworthy had to ensure that each feature on the physical note was designed with intention and purpose. Designing a normal banknote is incredibly complex and there are many elements that need to be considered. But Noteworthy isn’t a normal banknote, it’s one that combines the originality of paper money with the security benefits of digital assets and blockchain technology, presenting the team with a whole set of new challenges. We had to scrutinize all elements of their functionality; which security features are important to users, what it should feel like, if we wanted to include a portrait, which color schemes would resonate with the public, and so much more.
We approached the design with the consideration that Noteworthy banknotes needed to have a familiar feel and look to a traditional banknote, but one that was able to function digitally. The front of the note has more simple elements that one may equate to the US Dollar or Euro, while the back contains more abstract concepts, highlighting the forward-thinking, modern nature of this project.
I have extensive experience in the analysis of banknote design, and Noteworthy co-founder Peter Vessenes was aware of my role in creating the ninth series of the Swiss Franc. He had incredible passion while explaining the project and his goal to create a banknote of the highest quality that would combine the trust, reliability, and security of paper currency with the modernity of digital assets. Peter’s passion, along with the challenge that this project presented, immediately intrigued me and I promptly joined the team as its Chief Design Officer following this conversation.
Once I met with the team, I started drawing concepts and sharing ideas for what the design of something as unique as Noteworthy might look like. I would sketch these concepts by hand and then move the concept into a digital rendition on a computer. I would virtually show the designs to the team and we would collaborate on where we could enhance them even further.
The largest challenge was finding a way to see the design through on a physical substrate. I was tasked with not only finding a printer and style of printing that could combine the various drawings (which are layered) into one note, but one that could embed a cryptographic microprocessor as well. We also needed to ensure that the substrate physically felt like the banknotes we are accustomed to using in our daily lives. Luckily, I had formed several contacts in the printing and financial industries during my time with the Swiss Franc design, who I knew would be excited by this innovative project; we are fortunate to have a partner working with us to develop the type of notes we envision.
The various companies and team members I have met have been a pleasure to work with, as everyone is able to bring a unique skill set to the table. As the Noteworthy engraver, Thomas Hipschen has a unique eye for the smallest, detailed illustrations that are imperative to note functionality and bringing it to life. As Noteworthy’s CEO Larry Felix has been able to ensure we see this project through to its fullest potential.
If we want to encourage more people to become involved in cryptocurrencies, we must create something that is trustworthy, secure, and unintimidating. Design processes have and always will be at the forefront of Noteworthy banknotes. It is incredibly important to our team that Noteworthy substrates look and feel of high value to encourage and exemplify trust in the financial world. I am thrilled to have been at the helm of designing and collaborating on this fascinating project that has the potential to shift the future of digital payments.