I previously made a proposed flag of Utah in 2009 but I wanted to revisit this with my new skills. This new design was created in early 2021 with consultation with NAVA members as part of their Design Gauntlet. Thanks to everyone who gave feedback!
I am proud to be a finalist for the flag of Long Beach, California! The city council is busy dealing with Covid so the flag project has been put on hold for now. I’ll update this post if there is any news.
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!
I aimed for maximum feasibility (i.e. appealing to as much of the public as possible with their various preferences, based on evidence of what people want and don’t want in a new flag) rather than just making something that looked nice and symbolic to me personally. The concepts are roughly in order from most to least feasible, starting with the most conventional and balanced designs and ending with the most radical and peculiar designs. However, the reception of each design on Facebook and Reddit was a little different from expected. I will leave it up to the reader to decide which designs are the best.
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 neutral design to represent the whole of Ireland. This is a problem when there are many all-Ireland organisations and sporting-teams. Many of these compete internationally but cannot use an official neutral 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 neutral 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. As The Economist notes, this possibility is actually becoming likelier by the day. If the cause for Irish unification escalates into a realistic possibility, it will require an acceptable symbol that is neutral and not associated with only one side.
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 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.