Design Classic – Influential and important design

Million Mark Note featured image

Million Mark Note

  • Designer: Herbert Bayer: wool upholstery and wood frame
  • Date: 1923

The Bauhaus was the most well-known design school of the twentieth century. It was always a small school, with only 1,250 students graduating during its fourteen-year tenure. It has, however, come to represent the new Modernist approach to design and industry that has emerged in the twenty-first century. One of its achievements in 1923 was receiving a commission from the State Bank of Thuringia to design a series of emergency banknotes. Due to an ever-increasing inflation rate, the production of banknotes was a growing industry in Germany’s Weimar Republic at the time.

Herbert Bayer, a young student, was tasked with creating notes in denominations of one million, two million, and two billion. The German economy was in shambles by the time they were issued on September 1, 1923, and even higher denominations were required. Bayer’s designs exemplify the ideology of hardline Modern Movement graphics: straightforward typography, minimal decoration, and strong horizontals and verticals. They are highly individual in terms of banknotes, with an experimental approach made possible by the unique economic circumstances of their era.

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

McDermott, C. (1997). Twentieth century design. Carlton.

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