Good Flag


Flag for the City of Kalamazoo

Flag for the City of Grand Rapids

Flag for the City of Ann Arbor

Flag for the City of Lansing

Research Summary

Duration: 3 weeks
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Project Brief

A well-designed flag could be seen as an indicator of how a city considers all of its design systems: its public transit, its parks, its signage. It might seem frivolous, but it’s not. Often when city leaders say, “We have more important things to do than worry about a city flag,” my response is, “If you had a great city flag, you would have a banner for people to rally under to face those more important things.” – Ted Kaye, Vexillologist, North American Vexillological Association (NAVA).

You will design a flag for one of the cities in the state of Michigan: Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Grand Haven, and Ann Arbor (3 students/city.) The purpose of your flag should be to represent its place, generally on a rectangular piece of cloth, to be seen at a distance, often moving, and reproduced in quantity and in many sizes.


Learning Objectives

  1. Improve on the study of semiotics and meaning.
  2. Practice design research.
  3. Develop strong presentation skills.
  4. Assess their and their classmates\' work to form and defend value judgments.


Final Design and research summary



I divided the class into groups so groups could collaborate on the research aspect of the project. I would advise a more strict research framework or at least a few prompts for students to start. Ideally, the flags should be based on cities they can easily travel to or have familiarity with. Providing a research presentation outline is also a good idea.

For their sketching, I also provided sheets with 1x1.5\" rectangles drawn on them. This is the apparent size of a flag when hung from a flagpole. The reduced scale invites students to think about simple forms, high levels of color contrast, minimalism, and symbolic references.

The project may also embrace social causes instead of cities.

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