Frankfurt graphic designer Alexander Lis’ flag, Drop Bombs, Not Gradients!, refers to the popular gradient tool in Adobe Creative Suite.

The Swiss artist Beni Bischof contributed Ghettofaust.

Three German graphic designers, Manuel citizen, Till Wiedeck,
Timm Häneke, applied a placid blue sky to their contribution. "Our flag is playing with the associations of freedom and belonging," the group writes. "The territorial nation-state is a model of yesterday."

A Democratic Flag, by Cox & Grusenmeyer, is a geometric critique on modern democracy. "Designed as an open template," write the designers, "this flag represents the ultimate boundaries for this pseudo democratic spirit."

Craig & Karl’s bindle-wielding chick is an ironic meditation on displacement.

Deutsche & Japaner’s untitled flag is the only flag in the exhibition without an accompanying statement.

Foundland’s flag uses imagery published on Syrian resistance groups’ Facebook pages. "By using this symbol on a flag, we hope to raise awareness and curiosity about this cause," they explain. "But also show our collective’s fascination with protest images which combine both Western and Arabic symbolism in order to create new meaning."

German design agency HORT created a flag full of primordial symbolism. In their statement, the designers ask, "why invent new symbols when working with those we already have can create entirely new meanings?"

HORT’s second flag follow the same logic. The flags’ abstract geometries "symbolize the creative freedom we have today," they write.

A burning flag, explains Australian designer Jonathan Zawada, symbolizes the death of nationalism. Here, he says, "they represent a constant state of flux and change. There is no goal or ideal embodied, no end point, no state of concrete certainty."

Killian Loddo’s flag applies evolutionary biology to nationalism. He compares the flag to a peacock--it’s an advertisement for a country’s good design.

Australian collective MASH call their flag "a symbol of 'growing down,' not growing up. Seriousness is left behind." Also, there’s a sausage somehow involved.

Korean designer Na Kim juxtaposed dozens of sheets of ruled paper to create Rules on Rules. "No rules are absolute, only relative" the artist comments.

Russian designer Protey Temen contributed the ominously-titled Rock Paper Flesh.

German collective Vier5 fly a white flag, traditionally symbolizing defeat. "I think a white flag speaks for itself," the group writes.

An image of the exhibition, which opened during the independent publishing fair ABOUT.

New Glory: 16 Artists Invent Flags For A Globalized World

In our post July 4th daze, let’s consider 16 flags designed to signify our new cross-boundary reality.

As boundaries between nations crumble, do we need new types of flags? Rem Koolhaas certainly thought so—he redesigned the EU flag as a barcode in 2001. A recent gallery show in Frankfurt invited 16 artists to continue Koolhaas’s work, reinventing the flag to for a global world.

Curated by three young German graphic designers, Flags posed a simple question: If you could design a flag for your version of the world, what would it look like? “A flag is often used as a symbol for the affiliation with a certain collective, which shares similar opinions, values, and ideas,” write curators Arthur Ruppel, Christoph Tim Schneider, and Sebastian Zimmerhackl. “How does a contemporary flag, divorced from historic and national symbolism, express your values and ideas?”

The resulting flags are as diverse as the nationalities of the artists, who hail from countries like Holland, Syria, Russia, Switzerland, the U.S., and Germany. Some are funny: “Drop Gradients, Not Bombs!,” says German designer Alexander Lis, whose contribution is, of course, full of gradients. Some are political: Foundland’s flag is based on imagery by Syrian activists currently fighting the Al-Assad regime. “We hope to raise awareness and curiosity about this cause,” writes the studio. “But also to show our collective’s fascination with protest images which combine both Western and Arabic symbolism.”

Others are simply beautiful: German graphic design studio Deutsch & Japaner submitted their vibrant geometric design without an explanation, inviting us to “see what we want to see.” The curators explain that the goal of the group show wasn’t to develop universally relevant flags. Instead, "the goal is to question the traditional ways of designing a flag, to interpret the medium in a new way and to develop new creative approaches.”

Flags debuted at the independent publishing fair, About, in May. But each flag is available for sale on the Flags website, in limited editions of 10. While I’d love to hang one of these from my fire escape, I think they’re destined for framing.

[Images courtesy of Flags Edition; h/t Reform.it]

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3 Comments

  • Ashley Seuser

    Well it's certainly interesting. I wonder why one team didn't have a statement to go with their flag.