Friday, May 28, 2004

Chris Hawthorne of Slate has a photoessay about designing flags up. He seems to miss the first principle of design - any design, any subject: don't suck. Don't repulse the audience, don't confuse them, and don't offend them. Design is the exact mirror opposite of late-modern notions of "art". Design should not *challenge*, it should *engage*. He offers a "challenging" design for a new flag for the EU, in which the designer mashes together all the distinctive colors of the various component members of the Union in a series of eye-straining vertical stripes. It looks like a particularly harsh test pattern, and is totally lacking in any sort of visual cohesion. It might as well be static. The proposed Slovenian flag, on the other hand, is marvelous for reasons totally slighted by Hawthorne. It is composed solely of three colors - red, blue and white - in a a simple horizontal striped pattern, distorted and modulated by a series of blue and red peaks and white voids and a single balancing valley with its own white void. It is strikingly beautiful.

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