As a Design studio based in Newcastle we always keep an eye on what is happening in the wider design world. Lots can happen in just one short week, so grab that first coffee of the morning, and read the story that caught our attention the most over the last few days.
New Zealand’s government last week announced a shortlist of four designs for a new national flag, selecting three ferns and one koru from over 10,000 submissions sent in to them for selection.
You would think that the kiwi’s would be excited about a move away from the current design which ties the country back to colonial Great British roots, a flag in itself which has remains the same since it was legally adopted in 1902, but it would seem that they aren’t.
The shortlist has so far proved controversial, with many understandably disappointed at the lack of diversity, particularly as two of the submissions feature the same design in different colourway’s by the same designer.
A serious lack of involvement from the country’s design community is also a cause for concern; while the Designers Institute of New Zealand has been advising the panel, it seems a shame not to see at least one professional designer in the group. The overall process itself could be seen by most designers as devaluing graphic design, after all the creator of the winning flag doesn’t receive any payment for their work, where the flip side is that the panel of experts are believed to be receiving the equivalent of £300 a day for their involvement.
This coupled with the fact that the whole process is costing an estimated £10m of public money over the course of two years, its easy to see peoples anguish and disappointment towards the selection process and also why its likely to attract controversy from around the globe.
You would think that an opportunity to create a design that would stand the test of time and be used for generations to come would spark creativity amongst the panel, but so far it seems that they weeded that out before they got to the shortlist as a few of the designs in this post show.
The current result is a set of concepts that are obviously repetitive for one, but also fail to move away from the obvious symbols New Zealand is known for, with no fresh ideas carrying the country forward for the next 100+ years.