Which national flags have the best design?

Last week, we looked at the 40 designs revealed by New Zealand’s government, one of which could replace the country’s current flag. We ask designers which flag designs they admire the most.

Caz Hildebrand
Caz Hildebrand, creative partner, Here Design

“My favourite flag is the Japanese sun. It is the purest graphic distillation of an idea – it’s iconic and easily recognisable, and it’s easy to draw from memory (the acid test of a great flag). The idea of using white to create space around the red circle and prevent any intrusion into the space is a simple and powerful device. It represents so much, so powerfully and with total economy. In short, it is a brilliant piece of graphic design.”

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Japanese national flag

Sean Thomas, creative director, jkr
Sean Thomas, creative director, jkr

“The Marshall Islands came up close, but Saint Lucia is my favourite. It was created by local artist (Dunstan St. Omer) and says a lot using very little; the black and white elements reflect the different cultural influences working in harmony while the number of triangles represents the islands’ iconic volcanic peaks. But above all, the vivid combination of light blue and yellow takes me to a tropical paradise I’d love to visit.”

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Saint Lucia national flag

Jamie Wieck, co-director, Those
Jamie Wieck, co-director, Those

“Great national flags are either great exercises in simplicity, or fantastic curiosities. The flag for the Isle of Man is a perfect example of the latter – an ancient triskelion found in the fusion of three armoured legs. It’s a flag so at odds with the status quo it can’t help but stand apart. It’s bold, curious and just a little bit unsettling – you don’t forget it in a hurry.”

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Isle of Man national flag

Marksteen Adamson, founding partner, ASHA
Marksteen Adamson, founding partner, ASHA

“I’ve always loved flags. They should make us happy – for me, it means celebration and pride. The British flag is eternally impressive and rich, but the best flag in the world with the nicest story behind it belongs to the Danes. It’s still used today to signify not only pride and a sense of belonging, but the ultimate in ‘cosiness’. This is a concept the Danes have a specific word for – ‘hygge’. Also, it is said that the Danish flag came down to the country from heaven (probably having fallen from the backpack of an early medical team during a time of war climbing a small mountain nearby). Its simple red and white cross design stands for the ultimate celebration of happiness – and that’s what all flags should do.”

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Denmark national flag

What’s your favourite flag design? Let us know in the comments below.

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Comments
  • Jacob Turner August 20, 2015 at 10:30 am

    The Seychelles has a nice design bands of colour that move form the bottom left hand corner

  • Ravi Sharma August 20, 2015 at 10:45 am

    The worlds most unique and only non square flag is of nepal elaborated with the moon and the sun.

  • James Dudley August 20, 2015 at 11:08 am

    As a migrant who has made his home in Switzerland I love the Swiss flag. Its possibly the only national flag in the world that is square. It is red and upon this background sits a white cross. The Danish flag which may be read as two red squares and two red rectangles, but the Swiss flag has a form in the centre that floats there, making it great objects like T shirts.

  • Albu MIhai August 20, 2015 at 11:11 am

    I believe the same is superb Japanese flag

  • Nathan Hurley August 20, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    I agree with Jamie Wieck and love a flag that demands intrigue. As flags go, the Welsh have done something pretty bonkers. I love it. Dragons are fictional creatures and they’ve plonked it on their flag. It’s madness. Madness is good. We get paid for saying the Japanese flag is simple and the Swedish blue and yellow is a beautiful colour match but come on…..A DRAGON or THREE WEIRD ARMOURED LEGS…it’s bloody barmy!

    • Wayne Gourley August 24, 2015 at 7:36 am

      As I am Welsh I can’t help but proudly agree! Every Welsh kid I think equally loves and dreads the day in school when you have to ‘draw the flag’!

  • Paul Drinkwater August 20, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Gotta be Vietnam. I’ve always loved this site in which somebody with way too much time on their hands has rated and given a wry commentary of every national flag – http://www.otago.ac.nz/philosophy/Staff/JoshParsons/flags/intro.html

  • jozhe fonseca August 23, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    The Portuguese flag has 4 layers with the country´s whole history stages, from the white and blue monarchical christian cross top layer, followed by the shield with 7 castles conquered from the Moors that defined the borders, behind it the armillary sphere for the world discoveries, to the colors of the republic underneath.

  • Charlotte Løkke-Madsen August 24, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Actually Dannebrog, as the Danish flag is named, is said to have fallen from the skies in Estonia (during the Danish king’s crusade) in 1219, which makes it the oldest national flag still in use.

  • Chris Wood August 24, 2015 at 9:57 am

    If you want a flag that tells a story – and looks good while it does so – is dramatic, graphically sound and unique and which reflects both its country’s location and its history, you can’t beat Swaziland…

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