Complexities

The first principle of effective flag design is: Keep It Simple. Effective flags are meme-like, able to propagate themselves through human perception, memory, and action, and in this simple flags have an advantage.

On the other hand, there are certainly many highly complex flags. As the simplicity principle suggests, these tend to be obscure, expensive, and actually difficult to see should one come across them in use, up a flag pole. This isn’t to say they cannot be quite beautiful, when seen close up. Through the wonders of broadband, online media, and flag image repositories like Wikimedia Commons, we can easily access representations of these flags that let us zoom in and marvel at them.

Here are some examples.  (Please do click on them to zoom in!)

The flag of Turkmenistan is currently the most complex of any country's.
The flag of Turkmenistan is currently the most complex of any country’s.  The national passion and expertise in carpet design is on display — if you can freeze the flag’s movement to look closely.
The flag of Buffalo, New York celebrates the city's history in early electrification.  But as a local blogger asks, where is this flag hiding?
The flag of Buffalo, New York celebrates the city’s history in early electrification. But as a local blogger asks, where is this flag hiding?
The tiny island French "overseas collectivity" of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, off of Newfoundland, uses (unofficially) a highly complex flag based on its coat of arms.  This is an example of a meta-flag -- a flag made up of other flags.
The French “overseas collectivity” of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, two small islands off of Newfoundland, uses (unofficially) a highly complex flag incorporating Basque, Breton, and Norman flag designs.
The royal banner of arms of Charles I of Spain, 1518-1556.  Heraldic principles can result in quite stunning hierarchical complexity.
The royal banner of arms of Charles I of Spain, 1518-1556. Heraldic principles can result in quite stunning hierarchical complexity.
The seven-tailed flag of the Italian region of Veneto, adopted in 1975, is based on the ancient banner of Venice.
The seven-tailed flag of the Italian region of Veneto, adopted in 1975, is based on the ancient banner of Venice.
A reconstruction of the flag of the king of Sikkim, 1877-1967, is brimming with Buddhist iconography.  Royal flags may lend themselves to complexity, as issues of production cost and popular adoption can be moot.
A reconstruction of the flag of the King of Sikkim, 1877-1967, is brimming with Buddhist iconography. Royal flags may lend themselves to complexity, as issues of production cost and popular adoption can be moot.
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Author: SDM

Ethnography * Technology * Design

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