Birth certificates by IWANT
for Icon magazine


East London studio IWANT has overhauled the birth certificate to bring it into the digital age and make it more personal.

Birth certificates by IWANT for Icon magazine

Commissioned by Icon magazine for the Rethink feature of its April edition, designers at IWANT set out to create a birth certificate worth cherishing, which aims to paint a more personal picture of our first moments.

Birth certificates by IWANT for Icon magazine

The designers toyed with the idea of replacing the traditional printed certificate with a digital document, but decided against it, believing a combination of the two would be better.

Birth certificates by IWANT for Icon magazine

"In a digital age it makes sense that such a document would have a digital form. But we felt it would lose the sentimental value of something that could be touched, loved and displayed," they explain. "We agreed on a traditional hard copy, but one that paints a bigger picture of a person and when they were born. This could be accompanied by a dynamic digital file that could expand on this content."

Birth certificates by IWANT for Icon magazine

All the information on the existing birth certificate is kept – mother, father, name, registrar - but more information is added. Physical attributes such as weight, length and head circumference are represented with graphic symbols while prints are taken of tiny hands and feet.

Birth certificates by IWANT for Icon magazine

Other details including astrological, astronomical and etymological facts are also included, plus mapping coordinates for location of birth are added to the digital version.

Birth certificates by IWANT for Icon magazine

The information is displayed in a grid and is printed in black foil blocked onto watermarked heavyweight card, which comes in four colours representing the seasons.

Birth certificates by IWANT for Icon magazine

The certificate is housed in a heavy, glossy, white envelope with the baby's basic information embossed on the front and then secured with a wax seal.

Birth certificates by IWANT for Icon magazine

Rethink is a regular feature of Icon magazine in which designers are invited to reconsider ordinary things in extraordinary ways. Read about the redesign of a shop receipt by BERG here.

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  • Jonathan Tuffin

    Looks faintly sinister.

  • Will look incredibly dated in a few years. Pretty meh.

    • designer123

      I agree! I also wonder where is the Facebook and Twitter link.

  • smack

    Your life as an infographic.

    I don’t see why “ruling planet” or “element” would add a more personal touch (isn’t the element portion contained under “astrological symbol” anyway?), or even why you’d need to add a personal touch to an official government document, but it looks nice.

  • Chris

    Someone make this happen.

  • perpendicular

    Since when do newborns come to this world with religion built into them?

    • Yo mamma


  • Yo mamma

    I don’t think a newborn would have formulated their views on religion enough to brand them with it from birth.

  • While I agree that a newborn should not be branded with a religion, I think the overall concept of the certificate is brilliant. Much thought clearly went into it, and I like the graphic aspects including blood type and head circumference icons.

    The seasonal colour of card stock adds another element, and the birth sign could also have included the Eastern sign — year of the goat for example.

  • Bikeman

    Newborns take on the religion of their parents – they don’t get to choose their name, either, so why bother giving them one? They’re free to make changes to both when old enough to make those decisions.

    Nice design.

  • I can’t believe no one’s thought of this before. Would sell really well on NOTHS or similar.

  • Those are really gorgeous.

  • wabisabi

    Digital age? It ought to have a DNA sequence art print and also perhaps a QR code somewhere to read the information digitally. Looks more New Agey as it is.

  • We should wait and see at least 7 years what our children think about their certificates.

  • d..

    It seems Greater London is bigger than I thought.

    Overall it’s a nice idea with some nice details but also some areas not thought through at all. I agree the religion category is a bit of a grey area, I would at least hope they have symbols for being an atheist or agnostic (it seems they have two for Catholicism anyway) and I’m sure there would be objections to having the method of birth, sign of the zodiac or even monarch displayed.

    Also I’d wonder whether someone from outside the UK would necessarily know which nationality the person is – I’d have thought this would be prominent. I’m not too keen on the rendering of the wax seal either.

  • beatrice

    But birth certificates are not meant to have all that information on them.

  • Jack S.

    This would be a great update to the standard form. I would suggest that somewhere on this form a birth picture is added, I would say the upper right hand corner. Many of the ideas here for this makeover would work but others would need to be dropped or thought through more in size and information. Some of the symbols could be made smaller like the religion and official seal.

  • Arthole

    Hang on – they left out what was number one on your birthday.

  • I think this is a great example of poor information architecture. It’s impossible to scan quickly and find the most sought-out information. The names are plenty prominent, but other information like blood type, weight and size are pretty buried.

    In this day and age, why wouldn’t we just have a photo of the baby on the certificate? Who cares about a Google Map, name origin, huge icons of hair and an eye when you could have the baby’s photo?

  • Seamus

    Overall, I think this design is pretty bad. There’s all this extra information that is unnecessary and clutters up the hierarchy. Why is so much space given to astrology? Religion, while also unnecessary, gets a small block in the corner while so much space is given to astrological nonsense (sign, moon phase, governing planet, element). If someone is interested in the astrological junk, they can look it up for themselves. If it really came down to it, you might be able to include astrological information in the religion area for people who want to include it, but don’t waste space on information that’s utterly useless for a birth certificate.

  • Cynthia DS

    One-liner ethnicity? In big cities like where I am, Toronto, Canada, you’d have to describe everyone’s ethnicity as SALAD if you only leave one line of space like that.

    I challenge you to describe my sons’ ethnicity: Strong French + German + Indonesian + Chinese (grandparents) lines, and that’s just the “direct” lines. This is pretty common here in Toronto.

    Good attempt but too all over the place. I agree with the comment re: astrology. Way too much on that and not much on the factual portion.

  • me

    What’s a font in this certificate?