A Flag For The United States Of Europe

It’s quite a challenge to design a flag to represent one nation, never mind multiple diverse nations in one continent. Since 1955, the current European flag, with the twelve golden stars against a blue background has been used. Fifty years on and Europe has changed dramatically.

A new European design project recently invited designers around the world to submit ideas for the design of a new symbol for Europe and over 1400 designs were received. The design brief asked “what is the impact of this new, dynamic society with its diversity in culture, language and traditions on Europe’s identity? How do Europeans experience Europe? And how can that identity take shape?

From the 1400 designs, an international jury selected twelve symbols which will be made into flags and will adorn the flagpoles at the Hofvijver in The Hague for one week.

12 Flags

The twelve symbols below are those selected by the international jury. (Apologies for the small image sizes)

Europtimism

‘Europtimism'; Youngha Park, South-Korea

EuropeDiversity

‘Europe – united in diversity'; Emilia Palonen, Finland

NightSky

‘Night sky'; Matea Topic, Croatia

ColorPrints

‘Color prints'; Eleni Iliadou, Greece

EuropeSpace

‘Europespace'; Charles Bignon, Spain

SymbolAndFlag

‘Symbol and flag for Europe'; Bas Pronk, Netherlands

Jointhestars

‘Join the stars'; Brunno Jahara, Brazil

Spectrum

‘Spectrum'; Viktor Hertz, Sweden

Unity

Unity in the European Union'; Menelaos Vakhou, Cyprus

UnitedWeShine

‘United we shine'; Orio Tonini,  Netherlands

You can read more about the project on the Design And Government site and see all 1400 submitted designs here.

I’d love to hear your opinion on these designs. Which one (if any) is your favorite? What other symbols do you think are appropriate to represent Europe? Humorous responses welcome.

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  • Henrik Blunck

    United and Spectrum would be my most definite favorites. :-)

  • XLCowBoy

    They’re all terrible. 5 minute concepts married with 30 minutes of execution.

  • George

    In all honesty, they’re all crap. The current EU flag is better than all of these, although obviously it will have to be changed due to the changes since it was made.

    How about just adding more stars to the current EU flag design?

  • Dev.Kinney

    Designs are either too complicated, too mechanically digital or too simplistic. Some refinement and simplification of the Park design might work…too close to Nipon flag as is.

    • http://www.laughingliondesign.net Jennifer Farley

      Dev, I felt they were very mechanical looking too.

  • SnowFoxCreations.com

    I’m a design geek myself, and while some of these designs are beautiful, I’m a bit put off by how complex they are; I was less than half-way through the article before I was thinking about how hard it would be to reproduce these designs on various items, and what a nightmare they’d be for young school-children- remember those “color/draw the flag” assignments from primary school?

    The designs are beautiful, but they aren’t really simple enough to be typical flag designs. Also, keep in mind that while at sea/flying, it’s necessary for a flag to be recognizable from far away to confirm friend or foe.

    The designers are obviously skilled, but I can’t help but think that it’s the first time any of them have designed flags.

    The last one is neat, but placing gradients on a flag isn’t going to work that well when it comes time to print them.

    My favorite design-wise is the second one, “United in Diversity” which reminds me of a lovely patchwork quilt, but it’s just to detailed for a flag; the design would be lovely on almost anything else, though.

    The first one is a neat concept and looks great, but it features a 5-pointed star, which at least some people are sure to complain has an association with less-than-respectable religious practices- and I’m not sure that a religious symbol is quite appropriate for the flag representing all of Europe (especially since the bulk of it is now an awkward mix of atheism and Islam, if I remember correctly.) I love the kaleidoscope rainbow in the background, though- although this is what makes it too complex to be a good flag. It would be a sweet t-shirt design, however.

    If I were doing it, I’d try to make a geometric design incorporating some of the design motifs in the flags of Britain, France, Germany and some of the other major countries.

    • http://www.laughingliondesign.net Jennifer Farley

      Excellent points SnowFox and thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed comment.

      I absolutely agree with you about the complexity of some of the designs. I think it would be very difficult to make out what any of these symbols were on a fluttering flag.

    • http://www.rachelreveley.co.uk artemis

      I agree that religous symbols need to be avoided on national and governemental flags but Sitepoint is not the place for making biggoted, anti-religous comments. It is offensive and inapropriate in this context. I am sure you can find a more apropriate venue online.

      • sfrost2004

        Didn’t bother logging in because SitePoint login form doesn’t work at all without enabling JavaScript (oh well).

        May I ask what parts of SnowFox’s comments could be considered bigoted?

        There are obvious tensions between Islamic nations and the Islamic communities in nations which are secular by constitution (UK, France, etc). Witness the controversy over the banning of religious headwear in France and the Netherlands or the banning of wearing of religious iconography by companies in the UK.

        These tensions need to be addressed and resolved. Trying to shut them down by calling those people “bigoted” will only lead to further tension and discontent, which could ferment into something a lot uglier.

      • artemis

        I am not arguing against a comment against using religious symbolism as I am in absolute agreement.

        My comment was against the “less-than-respectable religious practices” part of the comment. I don’t know a single pagan or wiccan who could be considered any less respectable than any over average member of society and I am guessing that the commenter doesn’t know enough pagans or wiccans or know enough about the religious practices of such a religion to be able to validly make such a comment.

      • artemis

        Perhaps biggoted was the wrong term. Ignorant would be more acurate and I dont use these terms in an offensive way.

  • B.L.

    Have they never seen a flag? You know, on a pole? Up there? Those look more like web 2.0 banners.

    What’s the message here? “Ain’t gonna happen”?

    Good designs? Maybe. Suited to their purpose? Not at all. Frankly not even good t shirts. (Tough love, EU).

  • Ulyses

    I’m stunned by the lack of taste in those that have chosen. Bleah!

    I think this one could have been a beautiful and distinct choice.

    http://www.designdenhaag.eu/en/sites/designdenhaag.eu/files/imagecache/690w/vlag/452.png

    • http://www.laughingliondesign.net Jennifer Farley

      That is nice Ulyses, thanks for the link.

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely flabbergasted by how awful all of these are. Also, if the reason for redesigning the flag is that the countries in the Eu constantly change it’s idiotic that most of these designs are alsovulnerable to having to be changed in the future too.

  • Snapey

    I agree largely with snowfoxcreations. The designers ought to try starting with a piece of paper rather than photoshop

  • Rich97

    Honestly, ugly as sin.

    Out of the 1400 submissions that is the best they can find? They really need a designer on their team…

  • http://www.laughingliondesign.net Jennifer Farley

    Thanks everyone for all the comments.

  • XLCowBoy

    Well, here’s a lesson for everyone:

    What you see above is the result of crowd-sourcing combined with crowd-voting. The end results are total crap.

    Design is not, can not, and will never be, a democratic practice.

    Design a dictatorship with a PR department.

  • Anonymous

    Awfull.
    And let’s be honest, Europe is not the USofE. There’s more difference between Italy and Germany than between the USA and Canada. So no, I don’t want an European Identity. Even less a USofE. Let it go back to a loose union of nations.

  • http://www.yacare.fr McBenny

    As a european resident I’m quite attached already to the actual flag.
    As far as I know the stars on the actual flag don’t represent 12 countries but a circle, not like the united states’ flag.
    As the recent story of UE is to enlarge, I don’t think representing the enclosed capital towns would be a good idea.
    Same as Snowfox for the gradients, it’s just impossible on a flag. On the same way, using a great number of colors (over 4) is already becoming hard to represent. Especially in B/W mode… Thin lines are hard to represent in small sizes… The fifth proposition is outdated for twenty years already no ?

    In fact, it seems to me that all those flags are coming from one or two persons only. Among 1400 propositions they managed to retain the 3, 7 and 9nth propositions ? I can’t believe it !

  • http://www.iraqtimeline.com/maxdesign Black Max

    >>They’re all terrible. 5 minute concepts married with 30 minutes of execution.

    Yes, absolutely.

    >>What you see above is the result of crowd-sourcing combined with crowd-voting. The end results are total crap.

    Again agreed. XLCowboy says it quite well.

    • Anonymous

      Several commenters got it spot on. There seems no real clue as to the end purpose of the design, just a “looky what I can do in Photoshop” sort of thing. I wonder if they looked at current national flags around the globe to consider why those look like they do, and what works/doesn’t work for flag design?

      This is sadly common in many designs I see for logos and branding, where a logo design may look great on screen (though these flags don’t) but is wholly unfit for use *as a logo*.

      And in #2 flag above, is that a swastika in the lower right? wow.

  • driedsoap

    They actually selected a gradient circle over >1390 other designs. Very laughable.

  • Interceptor

    These are all ruddy awful! The current flag is fine -stick some more stars on it. Failing that, let’s come up with a proper old-school flag, with stripes, stars, religious iconography and shouting involved. I certainly wouldn’t want to march under a badly-realised rainbow-star carbuncle…

  • European

    First of all, EU is not The United States of Europe, which is a different concept than the European Union is today.
    But those falgs are awful. It looks like the choice was made amongst authors, not the designs. The current flag is much better, let it stay.