The month of September was Los Angeles’ birthday month and we wanted to celebrate by giving her a new flag. We had readers from all over the world send in what they think the flag should be and what they thought of the old flag. The designs ranged from the very graphic designer, poster looking flags to ones that look like they could fit into any other city in the world. There was some uproar about the possibility of redesigning the city’s seal (Which was not we tasked people with…) and a lot of excitement surrounding what the flag can and should be. So what should it be? Let’s dive in and explain who our winner is.
We were looking for a flag that is both iconic and simple, timeless and relatable. The ideal flag could be a mark for the city, a jumping off point for branding. How can we translate this into something as widely shared and widely seen as a flag? That was the challenge. It was easy to get caught up in trying to bring in so much of the city and trying to be too reverent to the idea of a flag and trying to be too precious in the practice. This is a design contest not an actual rebranding of a city: get experimental and get weird and take a risk. A lot of people did that and we’re so happy that we got to see and share them: see all the entries here.
The flag that stood out most to us was Roma Lubimov‘s flag, which was so painfully basic that it worked. It is bright and it is exactly what we wanted to see: a flag that had a universality and cleanliness to it, one that Angelenos could identify with and that could represent the feeling of a city. The flag is a near neon, atomically sunny yellow with a blinding white circle in the middle of it. That is it. There is an obvious connection to the Japanese flag, yes, but you’ll notice the center circle is bigger and the handling of color is much different. (And, if you want to cry too similar flags, just look at this flag and this flag and this flag and this flag and this flag and this flag and this flag and this flag: homogeneity is all the rage in flag making.)
In his statement, Roma explained that his idea behind the flag is to make something that mirrored something universal and identifying in Los Angeles: the sun. “I wanted to create a holistic, emotional, and very neat concept,” he said. “This flag isn’t trendy, it’s iconic. I wanted to create an image that, fifty years from now, would look fine.” That’s exactly what we wanted: something that we could look behind at and forward to without being embarrassed or confused as to why our flag is that flag. I see myself in this flag and I’m sure a lot of other people see themselves in it too. It’s a very common, sunny, LA flag. It didn’t get caught up in items that, while iconic, have visually difficult to simplify. Mountains, trees, the ocean, and wildlife are a huge part of Los Angeles but are very hard to cram into a flag: the sun is a catch all. We’re all under it and we all need it to exist and we are sometimes defined by the sun, too. It isn’t all that we are, of course, but it does a great job of catching something we can all smile and go “I get that.” to without having to over-explain it.
Moreover and just as important with this flag is its ability to be used in many ways. Roma made a little periodical and .gif and shirt to show off how the flag looks, in practice. You can easily see this branding being used to help sell the city. If you got off a plane at LAX and the souvenir shops were filled with bright yellow and white goodies, you’d probably be enticed to buy them. They’d fit in well with the SoLA merchandise, too.
We’re very happy to unveil this new Los Angeles flag and congrats to Roma, the first winner in Project Rebrand Los Angeles. We’ll be having another Rebrand contest soon: stay tuned.