Flying your flag

I've been to Fiji twice. Once before I got engaged and again on my honeymoon and both times I thought it was an amazingly beautiful place with amazingly beautiful people.

From March to May 2015 there was a national competition for the design of a new Fijian flag. The shortlist of that competition is now up on the New Fiji Flag website for the public to comment and vote.

The shortlisted Fiji flags

Browsing the shortlist I felt that while they all carried some good and appropriate symbolism, I was left feeling that they weren't quite right from a design perspective.

Now I'm no Vexillographer so the flags may actually be perfect based on flag best practice. So I hit the books to find out what the primary rules for designing a flag were.

  • Keep it simple The flag should be so simple that a child could draw it from memory
  • Use meaningful symbolism The flag's images, colours or patterns should reate to what it symbolises
  • Use 2-3 basic colours Limit the number of colours on the flag to three, which contrast wel and come from the standard colour set
  • No lettering or seals Never use writing of any kind or an organisations seal
  • Be distinctive or be related Avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections Source: http://www.ausflag.com.au/assets/images/Good-Flag-Bad-Flag.pdf

The thing that I thought was missing from this list are the common design rules we all learn about at design school such as the Rule of thirds.

So as a quick design exercise I took the opportunity to combine a few of my own favorites that I thought matched Fiji the best based on my limited exposure to it and its culture and applied some design theory to come up with my own suggestion.

The result

My suggestion for the new Fiji flag - a turtle on a deep ocean blue border with a yellow arrow pointing the way forward in to a sea of Fiji Blue (light blue)

I break one of the five flag rules in this design - that of limiting the design to just three colours, but I feel that the design feels fresher for it.

We have the turtle in the deep ocean moving toward the land and up towards the sky, the golden beach in the shape of an arrow showing the future direction of the country and the land itself represented by the light blue (Fiji blue) colour. Together, all these elements work to represent many aspects and aspirations of the Fijian people.

Breaking it down, I feel that my design improves on the shortlisted versions by:

  • giving the turtle more space - she was too cramped and close to the triangle in the original
  • Places the head of the turtle at the first vertical 1/3 line and close to the top left point of interest intersection leading us onward. It also moves the triangle shape along the flag so that the split between dark and light blue is closer to 1/3 - 2/3 making the whole design feel more balanced
  • Keeps the yellow colour which I felt was important for the relationship with the sun and the sand. I also felt that the deeper yellow was more confident than the lighter yellow used in some of the designs
  • Keeps the "Fiji Blue" to provide continuity from the 1970–2015 flag
  • Adds the dark blue to tie it to the deep water and depth of culture

As an Australian I recognise that it's not my place to help to choose the flag of another country, it's just something that I thought was fascinating and something I wanted to contribute to in some small way. I look forward to seeing what the Fijians end up choosing.

If you are from Fiji, make sure you get along to the website and cast your votes!


Fijian sunset cover photo by Chris Isherwood