21 Flags by Jon Banthorpe
The flag as design archetype is the ultimate logo, a contained platform of colour, shape and balance.
Flags are beautiful, representative of entire countries, symbolising the aims and ideologies of a group – objects that instill pride, hope, fear and oppression. Dense planes of signs and signifiers whose intent is a declaration of the values held by those that stand beneath them.
Fort St Elmo is the location of Malta Design Week 2014. A military installation built by the Knights of St John as a reaction to the Great Siege of Malta of 1565, and the capstone of the capital city Valletta, signifying its status as a true fortress city. The fort itself has undergone many additions and interventions, chiefly by the British military, and played an important role in the defence of the island during World War II.
This military aspect that encourages thoughts of rules, regalia, uniform and tradition coupled with the theme of this year’s festival – Micronation – is the departure point for the 21 Flags project.
Any nation. Micro or not, needs a flag. At Malta Design Week we propose not just one, but 21 Flags. The number 21 is generated by the scale of the courtyard within Design Week’s grounds. A parade ground of sorts, the installation of 21 flags is intended to evoke the great halls of kings and displays of military might, but with a difference.
As with any other archetype, flags are open to reinterpretation. A model to be destroyed and played with. This is the intention of 21 Flags. Twenty-one designers and studios will be invited to contribute a flag. Selected through a process of dialogue and community, designers will be approached and asked to contribute and recommend, creating a global network – the antithesis of a singular flag ideal.
This dialogue will be furthered during Design Week with a publication representative of each studio and designer, producing a snapshot of an eclectic community and remaining as a celebration of that difference and diversity.
21 Flags is made possible with the kind assistance of ukflagcompany.co.uk