Bankside flag design project is “two fingers up” to other London boroughs

NB Studio has worked with Better Bankside to commission 45 creatives including Morag Myerscough, Alan Kitching and Supermundane to create colourful flags that will fly across Borough Market during London Design Festival, in a bid to show that the district pulls its weight creatively.

Flags created by 45 designers will fly across Borough Market this September, as a project to celebrate London’s Bankside area for London Design Festival.

The Bankside flag project is part of a wider project run by Better Bankside, a non-profit organisation looking to improve the Bankside district in London.

The wider project will look to boost awareness of Bankside and what it offers, and improve both tourism and business prospects for the area. It will involve a place branding project and a physical or digital platform, according to Better Bankside.

Better Bankside commissioned design practice NB Studio to complete this project, part of which is the flags installation, which was NB’s idea.

Showcase Bankside as a place for “free thinkers”

by Nick Finney, creative director at NB Studio

NB commissioned 45 creative people or groups, including itself, to design flags that would “celebrate the independent spirt of Bankside”, the studio says. They went out to a range of people, including individual designers, studios, illustrators, typographers, artists and photographers.

London district Bankside is part of the borough of Southwark, and is based on the southern bank of the River Thames, sat next to better-known Southbank.

Historically, it was an area of culture, enjoyment and “pleasure”, having been home to theatres, brothels, gambling dens and pubs and taverns in the 16th century, and was a natural home for “outsiders, dissenters and free thinkers”, according to Better Bankside.

Now, it holds cultural institutions such as the Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe and Borough Market, and is also home to many design and creative studios, which have emigrated to the area in recent years.

NB Studio “left the brief open”

by Supermundane

NB commissioned designers through personal contacts, as well as those working in the Bankside area. The 45 creatives were given two weeks to design their flags, under a relatively loose brief, says Nick Finney, creative director at NB.

“When dealing with other creatives, we tend to leave the brief a bit open,” he says. “You understand what you get back might not be what you expected.”

There were a few specifications for the flags, including a 160cm x 100cm rectangular size with a 25mm bleed to allow for hemming, the design would only be printed on one side, and that they must not incorporate Pantone colours or brand logos. The studio also specified that pink is Bankside’s main brand colour, and, while not compulsory to use pink, the exact Bankside pink shade should be used if designers chose to.

Morag Myerscough, Michael Wolff, Superunion

by Alice Bowsher

Contributors include typographer and letterpress artist Alan Kitching, designer Morag Myerscough, graphic designer Michael Wolff, illustrators Alice Bowsher, Supermundane and Alec Doherty, sculptor and artist Wilfrid Wood, a host of design studios including Pentagram, Johnson Banks, Studio Sutherl&, Hat-trick, Superunion, GBH, Jack Renwick Studio, NB, Atlas, and more.

The flags will hang at Borough Market’s Jubilee Place throughout London Design Festival this month, then will “fly around the area” afterwards, says Better Bankside.

A second copy of each flag will be printed, and all 45 will be sold in an online auction for charity, with proceeds going towards Better bankside’s three local community charities: Construction Youth Trust, Contemporary Applied Arts and Mental Fight Club’s Dragon Café.

The organisations help disadvantaged, local young people get into careers in construction, teach communities British craft skills and look to tackle mental health, respectively.

A “two-fingers-up to other boroughs”

by Jack Renwick Studio

Neither NB nor any of the commissioned creatives will be paid for the flag project, though NB will be paid for the wider project to promote Bankside. Better Bankside is paying for the printing and technical costs of the project.

A winning flag will be chosen, which will become the “official flag of Bankside”, says Finney, and will be used as part of the wider Bankside project.

“We’re based in Bankside and we love it, so the main point of this project is to push and promote the area,” says Finney. “It’s also a bit of a ‘two fingers up’ to other boroughs and districts – Shoreditch might draw in lots of young people, but Bankside is the party island – a lot of culture was born here and now creative studios are coming over.”

The flag a symbol of “civic pride”

by Alan Kitching

On choosing the flag concept, Finney says the object is a symbol of “pride”, and the format also draws on classic graphic design principles.

“There’s a ‘man on the moon’, claim-it-as-your-own feeling with a flag,” he says. “Flags represent place, and instil pride. Also, if you turn a flag on its side, it’s a poster, drawing back to our graphic design roots and making it an easy format to design on.”

The flags will fly at Borough Market’s Jubilee Place 15-23 September. An online auction of the flags, and the announcement of a winning Bankside flag, will follow.

by James Joyce
by Marion Deuchars

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