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October 22, 2013

Wired: Could These Redesigned State Flags Unite Us?

Pop quiz! What’s on your state flag? If you’ve lived somewhere for a while, you probably have a good idea. Michigan, my home state, flies a plain blue rectangle with a busy emblem in the center involving some deer, I think. But if you’re a newcomer to your current state of residence, there’s a good chance you’re totally clueless about what’s flying above city hall. The truth is you don’t really encounter state flags all that often.

A few months back, Ed Mitchell, a designer at the Philadelphia-based product design firm Bresslergroup, was listening to an episode of the podcast 99% Invisible that was dedicated to local flags, and it got him thinking about the banners we fly for our 50 states. “I was immediately bothered by how discordant they are as a group.” he remembers, “And I wasn’t surprised to learn they break just about every rule of flag design.” So, amidst the backdrop of a fractious, fighting Congress, Mitchell decided to come up with a single visual language that could be used to redesign the whole lot, all in the name of making our Union a little more, um, united. …