01   Changing How We Carry Money

A pair of products — one "low tech" and one "high tech" — that reimagine the way money is carried and transacted

Created for:   CMU's Junior Fall Products Studio
Term:          October – December 2019

Research methods

To better understand the space surrounding carrying currency, I created a concept map to clarify the relationships present within the ecosystem. Along with the more quantitative items, I became interested in the emotional quality that wallets hold such as their place as gifts and as heirloom pieces that tell stories. Various research methods helped me to discover the functional criteria and expectations of their ideal wallet.

Material embodies value (low tech)

For the low tech product, I wanted to create something that not only fulfilled the functions that were highlighted in the research, but also embodied the value of money through materiality and construction. Leather was chosen as the primary material because of its luxurious nature and positive aging qualities. The outter pockets serve as quick access compartments while the inner pockets mask lesser used items until they’re needed. The graphic symbols help users to orient the wallet and are “blank” in that users are able to assign to them their own meaning to help with organization.

Designing towards the future (high tech)

The presence of malicious individuals attempting to steal currency electronically will no doubt continue to grow as technology evolves. For this reason, it will be increasingly important to separate sensitive payment information from smartphones or other connected devices. A dedicated cold storage wallet would be the most secure way to manage electronic currency, and is the go-to method of doing so in today’s cryptocurrency industry. Where today’s options fall short, however, is their lack of focus on day-to-day transactions such as how they could be used at a cafe or retail store. Once the use of cryptocurrency becomes more prevalent, the devices and practices that people use to interact with it will need to change as well.

Mindfulness through practice

In contrast with current hardware wallets, I wanted to make individuals more mindful and respectful of transacting money through a delicateness in form language and interaction. The tray-like design of the base is inspired by the money trays that are common among Asian countries and the interaction is intended to make the exchange of money a more mutual and almost ritualistic process.

Form and interaction

Inspired by the topology of one of the most tactile and primitive forms of expressing currency — the coin — I developed a form and interaction around a circular hand-held device. The perimeter of the device is a touch-sensitive surface with a shallow groove for the finger to rest comfortably. On the other side of the device is a soft touch TPU with extra grooves to provide a secure grip in the hand and stability on the table. In addition, stark contrast in the screen-based interfaces helps to differentiate the gestures of giving and receiving money at a glance.

CMF exploration

Wanting to imagine a robust product experience, I explored three preliminary colorways for the high tech device. Inspired by the popular and iconic payment card, "Sapphire" is a fresh and expressive color for a personal device. "Bronze" exudes a sense of luxury and creates an almost heirloom quality with its warm undertones. Finally, "Dark Grey" provides an understated yet sophisticated option that still speaks to its high value.