Anyone who doubts that we live in a global economy needs to look at packaging and products from the far-flung reaches of the planet. These lovely labels for sauces and marmalades were made for Italbu Charcuterie in Burundi, a little landlocked country in Southeast Africa, bordered by Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Italbu Charcuterie is a deli shop offering organic products made from original Italian recipes.The design firm Ya Ye lists studios both in Zagreb, Croatia, and Bujumbura, Burundi. Ya Ye’s design has a contemporary universal quality that could have just as easily been produced in New York, London or Sydney. Cultural design differences were more distinctly identifiable before air travel and multinational retailers. A World War II vet once told me that if a soldier was parachuted onto foreign terrain, he would know where he landed by the typography and architecture, even before hearing the spoken language. With the Internet today, the whole world is exposed to the same visual references and design styles can’t be pinpointed to a particular culture or part of the world.
We have all heard of the American dollar, the European Union euro, the South African rand, the Japanese yen, etc., but can you recognize currency symbols on sight? Are you aware that at least 24 countries use the “$” sign to denote that the number that follows has a monetary value? In this global economy, it has becoming increasingly important for designers, editors and proofreaders to have at least a rudimentary knowledge of money marks. Here are a few currency symbols. Using the number beside each symbol, see if you can match the symbol with the country that uses it. Note: Due to space, not all countries that share the same symbol are listed.