As one may have expected, design company Dowling Duncan’s imaginative currency redesign for Richard Smith’s Dollar Rede$ign Project has sparked some heated reactions. Conservative blogs Right Wing News and Conservative Crusader both posted an article by Warner Todd Hudson, which calls Obama and FDR (who are featured on the $1 and $100 bills, respectively) “[t]he two presidents that hated capitalism and wealth most” and accuses them of funneling money to “their pals, supporters, and party members.” Mirroring further criticism, a blog called Southern Beale sarcastically referred to half-British company as “a bunch of tea-drinking fancy pants Limeys.”
The designers told the UK’s Creative Review that the controversy came as a surprise. “We wanted to challenge people’s perceptions about what the dollar should be or could be, but putting Obama on the $1 bill seems to be the major talking point.” They continued, “[I]t’s our choice of two democratic Presidents, whom some believe have not helped the US economy enough in it’s time of greatest need that has got people’s backs up – unintentionally we might add.”
There’s currently no word on Obama’s reaction to the design. “[W]e’ve tried desperately to get to him but as you can imagine he is a hard man to reach,” says Dowling Duncan. “We’ve been told by some good sources that he would have seen it, but for him to comment on it would really ignite the debate.”
Besides the “partisan” messages on some the bills, the redesign offers some pragmatic improvements. “When we researched how notes are used we realized people tend to handle and deal with money vertically rather than horizontally,” the studio explained. “You tend to hold a wallet or purse vertically when searching for notes. The majority of people hand over notes vertically when making purchases. All machines accept notes vertically. Therefore a vertical note makes more sense.” The notes are also sized differently based on their value, like the Euro.