A flag is simply a fascinating piece of design. So we decided to explore them in every possible way in order to share our fascination with the world. With limited constraints and simple colors, flags are highly symbolic representations of a country’s unique story. But how unique is a flag really when it comes to the graphic design? Flag Stories is a series of infographics presented on flagstories.co where new stories will be added continuously. Flag Stories is a project by ferdio – a Copenhagen based infographic agency transforming data and information into captivating visuals. Curious to see what might be learned from an in-depth deconstruction of flag design, the project was also set out as a way of demonstrating how you can find and tell stories for something that seems “storyless” by comparing the data of layouts, colours, similarities, symbolism, proportions, etc.
There are a lot of books, communities and websites covering the different aspects of flags (vexillology) like history, demography and culture, but we wanted to add new aspects to this field by only looking at the graphics and creating simple and beautiful infographics. Comparing the data of layouts, colors, similarities, symbolism and proportions you will find interesting and hidden stories you didn’t know. Like, do you know what is the most used symbol in flags? Most used color? Or how the world flag would look like, if all flags were combined? It was important for us to both find new stories about the design behind flags and at the same time present them in a new infographic way telling the stories as simple, beautiful and inspiring as possible.
Basically we started looking at all the flags in the world and squeezed all the data we could possibly gather in to a blank spreadsheet. Wikipedia has been our most used source for information, but you will find the specific source list for each visual at the bottom of the page. Some data we needed to extract manually like “The most dominating flag colours of the world” and “The complexity of flags” by calculating the points and area of colours using Adobe Illustrator (Simplify Paths). For now www.flagstories.co is a simple customized Tumblr website as we wanted the infographics to be simple presented and easy to share on various platforms.
We’re an small infographic and data visualisation agency, who loves to do “con amore” side projects like this. Overall, we’ve been four people working on this for about 3-4 months in total and are still adding new content to the site as new ideas appear.
To be honest we didn’t expect to find this many stories behind flags, when we started out. But it seemed like the more we dug into the data, the more stories emerged. So expect more flag stories to be presented in future. Also we didn’t expect this much attention and interest from people around the world as it is kind of nerdy, but Flag Stories went viral reaching frontpage of Reddit and all kind of medias and more than half a million visitors. Reading hundreds of mails and feedback from users, it also underlines the strong feelings and interest to flags. So our plan is to keep digging and continuously adding new stories to the project and topic – new infographics are already lined up.
As a small agency not working full time on this project our main challenge has been time and focus. We would love to investigate more, do an interactive version, publish our work as a book, but due to the limited time, this has simply not been possible.
Also we need to highlight the fact the flags seem to underline the strong feelings and interest to flags. So we received a lot of mails with political opinions about incorrect data and why their country was not included.