A Passport is the most important document you will ever own, it’s value comes in the nationality you belong to, they are a statement to the rest of the world of your own country and it’s standing amonst every other country in the world. Most passports I’ve encountered are a formally presented leather wallet containing key legal information about it’s owner and where they have visited around the world over a set period of time.
After visiting the Design Museum, I viewed almost every project with great detail and attention in the ‘Designs of the Year 2016’ exhibition as well as ‘Fear and Love’ the exhibition at the time of our visit. There was one project that made an instant impression on me over all the others and I’m still impressed by it even now upon reflection and while it wasn’t the largest or loudest in the exhibition, in my own opinion the great design work presented made a lasting impression on me and that was Neue – Norweigan Landscapes, redesign of the Norweigan passport.
The first point to make is that this competition arose through the success of a similar campaign that just went into circulation to redesign Norweigan cash notes, this was a job assigned to ‘The Metric System graphic design studio on the front and Snøhetta’s design on the rear’ (Foreit, 2014). The result is shown below. You will see that in Neue’s successful competition entry elements of their design that fit in nicely with what was achieved in the redesign of the bank notes.
Figure 1 – Redesign of Norweigan bank notes (Foreit, 2014)
Neue are a small design agency team based in Norway with a proud list of accolades and achievements over the last seven years. In their own words they keep a small team to build a close connection to their clients and offer those clients in their own words ‘creating new, relevant and remarkable solutions’ (Neue.no, 2017). They pride themselves on telling ‘new visual stories’ (Neue.no, 2017), to simplify a brief down to capitalise on the ‘power of contrast and polarisation’ (Neue.no, 2017)
This project was initially offered as a competition in 2014 by the Directorate of the Police and the National Criminal Investigation Service (Kripos) who were seeking increased security of important Norweigan documents they also were looking for a unique concept, recognisable with a high quality design and of all the entries this was the winning design for a number of key reasons.
It’s a clever design and it’s full of character and detail to make it very clear that this passport is about Norway and it’s a document that is proud of that fact meaning the product retains a high quality and value. Visually the abstract landscapes with subtle colour use respect the nature of past passport design while adapting elements of that to create something highly contemporary and very much a fashionable statement for the current generation. “All Norwegians are so connected to nature, it’s a very strong part of our history and defines us as a country,” says Gørill Kvamme of Neue (Coldwell, 2014)
Figure 2 – Internal Spread of the Passport (Neue.no, 2017)
This is a project created by Norweigans for Norway and it’s oozes Norweigan culture while maintaining a smart formal presentation that does not make the document look like a cartoon and caricature. This work is very likeable and should impress the population of the country who will be using the document, something to be excited about owning when it’s time to renew your passport and exciting for those who acquire their own first passport. In the spread below under UV light the pages visually morphs to show the northern lights in the night sky. ‘The light also reveals hidden text written at the bottom of the pages’ (Howarth, 2014).
Figure 3 – Northern Lights Interior Spread (Neue.no, 2017)
The modern design is a wonderful refresh of a classic concept, this design will impress people beyond Norway and perhaps we will see a shift of future passports towards this more modern and contemporary direction. This is a country that is proud of independence and it’s achievements on it’s own and they are the modern forward thinking population that would be perfect to accept a document like this into it’s culture and be proud of that. The design is attractive, stylish, loud when making a statement and subtle in all the right places. The cover alone is a statement that continues to run as a strong theme through the entire document.
Figure 4 – Passport Cover (Neue.no, 2017)
While the passport offers a lot of character and strong statements, it’s simplicity is it’s strength to keep true to it’s core form and function. There is emphasis in the design to make sure it is strong in it’s function as a passport and to operate the primary source of official identification for it’s population. So it was natural in the entry by Neue to suggest a complimentary redesign of Norway’s ID card to go along with their passport design as seen below.
Figure 5 – ID card redesign, also submitted by Neue (Neue.no, 2017)
This passport is aimed at the population of Norway or anyone with a claim to a Norweigan nationality, from the very young to the elderly without discrimination, it’s modern, light, simple and fresh which will appeal to the younger generation. It maintains a strong proud sense of Norweigan identity, form, function and respect to the past to appeal to an older audience, they achieve a real nice balance with this design.
Figure 6 – The Passport it would be replacing (Pentax, 2017)
I must admit that I love this design and I think it’s a wonderful take on the passport without ignoring tradition yet full of modern contemporary updates to not only create a document great for the population of Norway but I do believe other countries in the future might seek out designers to redesign their own passports inspired by seeing the success of this design. I’ve never considered the design of the passport requiring much of an update or feeling dated, but this design really does open my eyes to the potential of what could be the passport design in the future, for that alone I am very impressed.
Capps, K. (2014). Norway’s New Passports Are Designed to Make Every Other Country Feel Inferior. [online] CityLab. Available at: http://www.citylab.com/design/2014/11/norways-new-passports-are-designed-to-make-every-other-country-feel-inferior/382848/ [Accessed 5 May 2017].
Coldwell, W. (2014). Norway’s new passport – already a design classic?. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/nov/17/norway-new-passport-design [Accessed 5 May 2017].
Foreit, C. (2014). Snøhetta’s New Norwegian Banknotes. [online] Trendland. Available at: http://trendland.com/snohettas-new-norway-banknotes/ [Accessed 5 May 2017].
Howarth, D. (2014). Norwegian travel documents receive a minimal makeover. [online] Dezeen. Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2014/11/15/norway-passports-id-cards-neue-design-studio-redesign/ [Accessed 5 May 2017].
Indergaard Sundli, K. (2014). The Norwegian Landscape Passport by Neue Design Studio. [online] Trendland. Available at: http://trendland.com/the-norwegian-landscape-passport-by-neue-design-studio/ [Accessed 5 May 2017].
Neue.no. (2017). Pass — Neue — New, relevant & remarkable. [online] Available at: http://www.neue.no/pass/ [Accessed 5 May 2017].
Pentax (2017). norway. [online] Pinterest. Available at: https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/439523244856924011/ [Accessed 5 May 2017].
Snohetta.com. (2017). Design Proposal for Norway’s New Banknotes. [online] Available at: http://snohetta.com/projects/200-design-proposal-for-norway39s-new-banknotes [Accessed 5 May 2017].