Scottish creative agencies play central role in new RBS £20 note

Scottish design professionals from Nile, O Street, Stuco Design and Timorous Beasties (by Stewart Attwood)

A COLLECTIVE of design agencies from Scotland’s creative industries scene has played a central role in the Royal Bank of Scotland’s pioneering “The People’s Money” bank notes, with the £20 polymer note released earlier this month being the third instalment of the “Fabric of Nature” series that first launched with the £5 note in 2016.  Nile, O Street, Stuco Design and Timorous Beasties are the main agencies to have supported the creative design process for Royal Bank of Scotland, while almost 30 different designers have been involved to date.  

Considered to be pocket size works of art, the notes are full of meaning and part of a family narrative to celebrate the people, achievements and nature of Scotland.  The £20 note released into circulation on Thursday 5th March features the country’s native red squirrel, with the obverse displaying an image of Kate Cranston of Willow Team Room fame who helped to bring about social change in Scotland.

The design featuring Kate Cranston of Willow Team Room fame

The series concept of the notes has followed a connected story, based on the public’s voice gathered from over one thousand conversations with people across the country, includes a range of specifically designed colour palettes, bespoke tweed patterns and typefaces.  Care was taken to create individual stories within each note, including four different tweed patterns created to reflect each note’s denomination colour and poetry to connect the type of landscape element and animals represented.      

Malcolm Buchanan, Chair, Scotland Board, Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “The £20 note illustrates the best of what Scotland has to offer and we are delighted that it has been brought to life with the effort, skill and artistry of some of Scotland’s greatest homegrown design teams.”

Sarah Ronald, Founder, Nile, who supported the design management process for  Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “This collaboration manifests what Scotland is all about; being brave, working tirelessly together and creating something outstanding.”

Jeni Lennox, Principal Design Consultant, Nile said: “Scotland is rich in so many things, these notes showcase our glorious natural flora and fauna, our textiles, our literature and languages, our entrepreneurial spirit, our humour and the capabilities of our outstanding creative industries to make magic from it all.” 

Neil Wallace, Director, O Street, who worked on engagement, ideation, then carried out the design and artwork of the banknotes series, said: “The ubiquitous banknote is something which millions of folk have in their pocket. Creating them took inspiration from the people of Scotland, advice from our peers and beautiful illustrations from Stuco and Timorous Beasties. Truly a designer’s dream job.”

Stuart Kerr, Director, Stuco Design, who were involved on the illustration side, said: “Being part of a project that has such currency with the general public has allowed a platform for conversations around design to happen on the street.  The pride of being able to champion nature and raising the profile of great Scottish women is also significant.”

Alistair McAuley, Director, Timorous Beasties, who were also involved on the illustration side, said : “This unique campaign has allowed us to work with a varied group of designers, makers, poets, writers, historians and zoologists on an idea developed by the people of Scotland which has created not only a monetary token but promotes a valuable cultural exchange both nationally and internationally.”

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