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What if Our Money Were Designed to Celebrate Science Instead of Presidents?

The future is looking brighter for mobile payments, but that doesn’t mean banknotes are nearing extinction. Far from it: As of October 1 there was $1.29 trillion worth of currency in circulation. It was just one year ago that the Federal Reserve began circulating the newly designed $100 bill, and on average Benjamins stay alive for 15 years.

When the Federal Reserve redesigns a bill, tons of minuscule details go into making it as counterfeit-proof as possible. The engraving changes, fonts are adjusted, materials are tweaked, and new money gets printed. All in all, it doesn’t sound like a very impassioned process. Travis Purrington, however, has a more poetic take on the matter: “I looked at money as a building block that makes modern civilization possible,” the student designer says. That’s what drove his redesign of our familiar greenbacks.

What if we used money “as an educational tool?” Purrington wonders. “And not to reinforce such a patriotic bond with the country, but more of a global bond with mankind.” For his master’s thesis at the Basel School of Design in Switzerland, Purrington (who is an American, from Idaho) gave US currency a top-to-bottom, front-to-back overhaul.

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