The current flag of Massachusetts is a typical American-style seal-on-a-bedsheet design, and as a result it is convoluted, unmemorable and uninspiring. In 2020, the flag has come under scrutiny from many groups because the sword above the Native American figure can be seen as an endorsement of colonial violence. In July, the state senate voted unanimously to look into redesigning the state seal and flag. Therefore, here is my proposal.
We need an official flag of Earth. We live in an unprecedented times where all the people of the world are connected together and aware of global issues, but are at risk of being divided. The planet itself under threat from destructive forces. Ecosystems around the world are dying, collapsing and on fire. We have a flag for every single place, except for the place that is most important of all. We have a flag for every single homeland, except for the land that is home to every human being. We have a flag for every single cause, except for the single largest cause in the history of our whole species. We have no consistent symbol for our entire home, yet we clearly need to express that right now.
When we want to represent global co-operation, what flag do we use? When we protest the planet’s environmental issues, what flag do we fly? When we celebrate events like Earth Day, what flag emoji do we use in our message?
There are a few options but they do not cut it. The most famous global flag is the flag of the United Nations but that represents the organisation and not the whole planet. Some people use a photograph of the planet Earth but that is not appropriate for a flag. There are other proposals but they are messy or unintuitive. We need a good, simple, catchy flag to represent our planet.
Here are all the Australian flag designs I made over the years. Like my New Zealand flag proposals, I put in a lot of effort researching and designing these proposals. This time, James Fitzmaurice was only indirectly involved. Australia has not had an official flag competition or referendum yet but I’ll be ready once it happens!
Proposed flags of Australia by Brian Cham.
As with all design, the how and the why is more important than the what. I used the same process as my New Zealand flag designs so I’ll just summarise that here.
After that, the article lists each of my proposals.
Flag of the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party) / 國民黨的旗幟
The current flag of Taiwan is a historical relic inherited from the Republic of China, which ruled mainland China over seventy years ago. Now it is confined to the island of Taiwan and the country is simply known as Taiwan to everybody. Moreover, it is based on the flag of a single political party, the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party). This may have made sense when Taiwan was a one-party state, but not when Taiwan is now a multi-party democracy in which the Kuomintang is just one of many political parties.
In recent years, Taiwan has shifted towards a strong, local, independent identity, especially the younger generations. For example, a poll by National Chengchi University shows that the majority of the population now identify as “Taiwanese” rather than “Chinese”, and this is constantly rising. Also, in July 2020, the Taiwanese passport was officially redesigned to emphasise the name “Taiwan” instead of “Republic of China”. There have been many such changes from the 2000s onwards.
The island of Ireland is currently split between the Republic of Ireland in the south and Northern Ireland (part of the United Kingdom) in the north. Each side has their own flag, but there is no single design to represent the whole of Ireland. This is a problem when there are many all-Ireland organisations and sporting-teams; some of these compete internationally but cannot use an official all-Ireland flag because no such design exists. Instead, each one uses their own ad hoc compromise design. A well-known example is the Four Provinces flag (displayed above) that just combines the individual flags of each of Ireland’s four provinces so as to represent the entire island in a disunited, clumsy and complex way.
Compare this situation with the Korean peninsula: Although it is split between North Korea and South Korea, there is a single official flag to represent the whole of Korea for joint organisations and sporting teams.
There is another big reason why an all-Ireland flag is needed. In the future, Northern Ireland may vote to leave the United Kingdom and unite with the rest of Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement stipulates that a referendum for Irish unification can be held if public support is high enough; this has not happened yet but it remains a future possibility. As The Economist notes, this possibility is actually becoming likelier by the day. If the cause for Irish unification escalates or even succeeds, it will need a symbol that is acceptable to both sides.
Therefore, here is my proposal.
Note: My choice of designs do not reflect my political opinions.
The current flag of Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region of China) consists of a bauhinia flower and five stars on a red field. Although this design was created by a local and contains a native flower, it was adopted under strict oversight by the Chinese government. The dominance of the colour red and the five stars, all borrowed from the Chinese flag, are a result of this. The relationship between Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China has come under growing scrutiny, so many Hongkongers feel that their flag reminds them more of China’s power than Hong Kong’s identity and no longer represents them. Therefore, here is my proposal.
New Caledonia’s strange and controversial flag situation: The flag of FLNKS party (left) and the flag of France (right) are co-official… but there is no single flag for the whole of New Caledonia itself. Situation étrange et controversée en Nouvelle-Calédonie: le drapeau du parti FLNKS (à gauche) et le drapeau de la France (à droite) sont co-officiels … mais il n’existe pas de drapeau unique pour la Nouvelle-Calédonie.
New Caledonia’s flag situation is bizarre by world standards. Instead of a single flag, it currently has two co-official flags, neither of which represents the whole of New Caledonia. One is the flag of France itself. The other is the flag of FLNKS, the political coalition that represents the Kanak indigenous people. This compromise was condemned as clumsy, divisive, controversial and unrepresentative. The situation was even spurned by important leaders at the time like the President of the Government of New Caledonia, the representative of New Caledonia to the National Assembly and the mayor of Nouméa. Critics pointed to the principles of the Nouméa Accord (the 1998 agreement between the French government and FLNKS) which expresses the wish for a “common destiny” for all communities. Many New Caledonians have demanded a single new flag that would express a common identity for all of New Caledonia. There have been existing proposals, but these designs are quite complex. Therefore, here is my proposal.
La situation du drapeau de la Nouvelle-Calédonie est bizarre par rapport aux normes mondiales. Au lieu d’un seul drapeau, il possède actuellement deux drapeaux co-officiels, qui ne représentent ni l’un ni l’autre toute la Nouvelle-Calédonie. L’un est le drapeau de la France elle-même. L’autre est le drapeau du FLNKS, la coalition politique qui représente le peuple autochtone kanak. Ce compromis a été condamné comme maladroit, source de discorde, controversé et non représentatif. La situation a même été rejetée par des dirigeants importants tels que le président du gouvernement de la Nouvelle-Calédonie, le représentant de la Nouvelle-Calédonie à l’Assemblée nationale et le maire de Nouméa. Les critiques ont évoqué les principes de l’accord de Nouméa (l’accord de 1998 entre le gouvernement français et le FLNKS), qui exprime le souhait d’un «destin commun» pour toutes les communautés. De nombreux Néo-Calédoniens ont réclamé un nouveau drapeau unique exprimant une identité commune pour toute la Nouvelle-Calédonie. Il y a eu des propositions existantes, mais ces modèles sont assez complexes. Par conséquent, voici ma proposition.
Note: My choice of designs do not reflect my political opinions.
Remarque: mon choix de modèles ne reflète pas mes opinions politiques.
My proposal / Ma proposition
Proposed flag of New Caledonia / Drapeau proposé de la Nouvelle-Calédonie
New Zealand has a history of support for redesigning its flag, which came to a head in 2016 with an official contest and referendum. This was a total fiasco – The judges had no relevant qualification or experience, the process was mishandled and the finalist designs were hated, among (many) other problems. In the end, voters opted not to change the flag.
Yet this was not a total victory for the current flag! A significant 43% voted against their own national flag, showing that it no longer has the prestige it used to, and a better flag design with a few percent more support would have won. What design would that be?
I and James Fitzmaurice have made and perfected these designs over the years, based on analysing thousands of designs and comments, consulting surveys and social science research, and more. Our designs are frankly far superior to the other proposals in aesthetics, symbolism and justification. Any one of them would have won the referendum. You don’t need to look any further if you want a design to support for the next time this topic comes up again in the public arena.
Is this all a product of raging narcissism or qualified judgement? For the first time, we have collected all of our designs in one place so you can decide!
Proposed flags of New Zealand by Brian Cham and James Fitzmaurice.
As with all design, the how and the why is more important than the what. This article begins by describing our extensive design process. Firstly, it describes our overall methodology and guiding principle. Secondly, it lists all of the common flag design traps that we tried to avoid. Thirdly, it explores New Zealand’s national symbolism and how to effectively express it in a flag design. Afterwards, this article covers each flag design with commentary, larger graphics and construction sheets.
Larry from Michigan reached out with a nice surprise. He sent me a photo revealing that he actually manufactured the proposed flag design which now flies outside his house! He said, “the redesign is better and the flag will stay in my family for generations. Thanks so much for the design.”
The current design
Current flag of Michigan
The current flag of Michigan is a typical American-style seal-on-blue-bedsheet design; as a result it is convoluted, unmemorable and uninspiring. It scored 3.46/10 in NAVA’s survey, making it the fourteenth worst flag in North America. In 2018, a state senator introduced a bill to replace it with a new design. Although nothing came of that, below is what I would have proposed:
The current flag of Fiji is almost unchanged from its colonial predecessor, a defaced British Blue Ensign. Since becoming a republic, the prime minister Frank Bainimarama called for a new flag design to reflect a new, genuine, confident Fijian identity without inheriting old colonial symbols. The Fijian government called for submissions throughout 2015 and 2016 but this plan fell through. This was the proposal designed by myself, James Fitzmaurice and Rachael Radhika-Hart.
Proposed flag of Fiji by Brian Cham, James Fitzmaurice and Rachael Radhika-Hart.