When it comes to upcycling, old bicycle tires and discarded biscuit tins often come to mind – yet one of modern society’s most commonly disposed of objects just might be living in your back pocket right now.

With an average lifespan of 18 months, bank notes around the world are decommissioned and destroyed about as frequently as banks can introduce new ones. But as we continue to depend on digital currencies and mobile apps as our wallets, how can we make use of our old notes?

In her latest project ‘Value’, Rotterdam-based designer Angela Mathis repurposes a number of different notes from around the world based on their color schemes – including the Euro, Indonesian Rupees, the English Pound and the American Dollar – into a workable textile design that’s used in her furniture designs.

Ultimately, Mathis answers the ultimate upcycling question: how do you give new value to a future worthless material?

“The paper that you call money is in itself worthless,” explains Mathis.

“If the economy changes, it can lose the value of that number that is printed on and all you have left is cotton and linen with some ink. The average lifetime of a banknote is only around 18 months, than it is damaged and dirty and gets burned. With digitalisation money as we know it will disappear. So what is the future of paper money?”

Be sure to check out the rest of the Swiss designer’s impressive portfolio.


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.