Design is all around you in both loud and quiet ways. From the buildings we work in to the products we use, many times we experience design in ways that have been created for us. Sometimes, though, we are brought into the experience.
The re-imagination of the City of Columbia flag is one of those opportunities.
Last fall, the Columbia Design League hosted a lecture featuring noted vexillologist Ted Kaye, author of the flag design bible Good Flag, Bad Flag. As you might suspect, a quick Google search of the words “flag” and “Columbia, SC” delivers two distinct stories. First, comes the protracted battle to furl the Confederate flag from the state house grounds. On a more positive note (and included in Kaye’s fall presentation) is the other flag, the State of South Carolina’s official flag, which South Carolinians embroider, fly and stick on everything from silver jewelry to foam coozies to belts.
One flag decidedly absent from our conversations around the event was the City of Columbia flag. Before last fall’s event, most of us hadn’t a clue that the city even had a flag. When we evaluated the flag based on Kaye’s criteria, it was painfully clear. Our dynamic city deserved a flag upgrade.
With so many paths forward to a new flag, the question was our approach. One of the biggest issues with the current design is that the imagery — stalks of corn and cotton — is dated. When you add a seal to the mix, the flag says government and farming. What’s missing? People. People are what make up any city. That’s who the flag should represent.
That’s why both Columbia Design League and One Columbia for Arts and History overwhelmingly decided to partner on the project and bring it to life as a public initiative with a $2,000 award for the winning idea.
A city flag is not a logo or even a brand. It’s an object that represents all things in this city. The flag’s next iteration will represent the people, the various cultures, the physical features, and most of all represent the pride we share for our city.
The current design, created by Taylor School first grade teacher Kate Manning Magoffin in 1912, has served our community well. We encourage you to take the same pride as Mrs. Magoffin did and create your own vision of Columbia’s flag, too.
Visit Design a Better Flag to learn more about flag design and how you can submit your idea. Designs will be accepted through April 10, 2017.
- By Julie Turner