The triggering of Article 50 last week means that Brexit is a certainty – and that the UK will need a new passport. Luckily last week also saw the judging for our unofficial Brexit passport design competition... here is a look at the nine proposals shortlisted by our judges.
We received over 200 entries from 34 different countries. The youngest entrant was 12 years old and the oldest was 83. Most submissions were from architects and designers but there were also entries from non-designers, students, retired people and unemployed people. Below are the nine designs that most impressed our judges ahead of the announcement of the winner on 11 April:
"Who says you cannot pack light(hearted)ly?"
Architectural assistants Eric Wong and Elliot Jefferies reimagined the passport as a suitcase passing through borders. The black and gold-foil cover features a motif based on luggage tags, while each transparent visa page displays an X-ray of items a quintessential traveller might pack. These are cleverly customised with British touches such as a tartan strap for a camera and a William Morris lining in a shirt, creating "a suitcase of British gifts".
As the passport travels around the world, these items are augmented by visa stamps that represent gifts given in return by each country.
"What defines the United Kingdom and what is the purpose of a passport?"
These two questions inform the entry from architect Hannah Perry, who responds with a document celebrating both the island geography of the UK and the joy of travel.
A perforated map of Great Britain and Northern Ireland features on the matt blue front cover. Inside, each visa page has a pastel pattern based on a section of coastline overlaid with a travel-related quotation from a famous Briton, including this one from Robert Louis Stevenson: "There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign."
"You only need a passport if you accept the existence of other countries as well"
This entry from Greek/German graphic design duo Billy Kiosoglou and Frank Philippin features the name of every country in the world, with the United Kingdom picked out in red. The countries are listed in order of their immigrant population on the front and their emigrant population on the back, with the lists spilling onto the visa pages inside. The design aims to acknowledge the "continuous comings and goings of people and ideas that form civilisation".
"The current passport is oversaturated with inward-looking patriotism"
Designers Steph Roden and Sarah Bethan Jones strip the current design "back to its wire-frame" to remove notions of Britishness they believe no longer represent our multicultural society. Instead they create empty spaces waiting to be metaphorically filled with new ideas of citizenship, inviting holders to imagine their own future.
The simple tape-bound cover resembles a school exercise book while inside, immigration officials have to tear apart perforations to reveal brightly coloured visa pages, meaning the passport gets more vibrant the more the holder travels.
"The weather in the UK is very unique"
Norwegian graphic design student Silje Bergum focused on Britain's infamous weather for her design. Each visa spread features a graphic interpretation of different weather phenomena – a page filled with blue dots represents hail while a page of intersecting yellow and blue stripes represents a sunshower. The minimal cover design, meanwhile, appears to be inspired by fog, featuring blocks of grey, blue and white, while the perky yellow stitching on the spine is a reminder of a sudden burst of sunshine after rain.
"The UK passport should act as a tool to mend relationships"
Easily mistaken for a nightclub VIP lanyard, this iridescent passport is not one to be hidden away in your hotel safe. Instead you wear it around your neck, where it acts as a conversation starter.
Submitted by London design studio Special Projects, it aims to help British travellers revive international bonds broken by Brexit. The visa pages feature handy translations of foreign phrases to help linguistically challenged Brits make friends abroad and encourage shared experiences via invitations to go surfing or share recipes.
"Britain needs a visual metaphor to reflect the pre- and post-referendum spirit"
Designer Ian Macfarlane's gradient cover starts out at the bottom as the current burgundy EU passport and gradually turns dark blue, representing the old, pre-European Union passport. The visa pages meanwhile are completely blank. Macfarlane described his passport design as an "honest reflection of the pre- and post-referendum spirit of the country and all those involved".
"Globalism tests the strength of national identity"
Dutch designers Tim Gambell and Alfons Hooikaas remove the notion of nationality altogether in their design, instead taking a hyper-local approach that sees each town have its own passport cover based on heraldic-looking symbols that are generated by an algorithm.
The visa pages go even further and are personalised for each holder, using data about the individual and imagery pulled from their social media accounts to generate imagery. To do this the designers have used emblemmatic, a software programme they developed that turns symbols into graphics.
"We need to show we still have a sense of humour"
Designer Mark Noad has proposed a tongue-in-cheek series of three passports for three types of inhabitants of the Full United Kingdom. The cover of the first, created for "true Brits", is coloured traditional blue and is emblazoned with the legend "FUK-U". The second, for non-British residents of the UK, is European-style red and is labelled "FUK-R". The third, for diplomats, is the colour of a white flag and "truly represents our standing in the world: FUK-D".
Each version features a crest with the Latin motto "cave quid volunt" (be careful what you wish for) and the French "adieu a mon amies" (goodbye my friends).