When I began this blog over a year ago, I made a decision not to attach my own commentary on the local Oregon design that I feature. Many featured projects on this blog are controversial but I chose to focus on their design merits instead (examples are the OHSU tram, lightrail expansion, bridges, etc).
However, upon seeing Matthew Norquist’s proposal for a new state of Oregon flag, I knew immediately that I would be breaking my non-commentary rule. Mr. Norquist is a Gresham resident who has helped introduced Senate Bill 473 for a proposed new state of Oregon flag.
You don’t need to be a designer to spot bad design. I am a designer however, and here are some of my problems with the proposed flag: Aside from the dull yellow and bland blue, the star’s size and location present an obvious tangency issue. The proportions are a problem as well. Despite the water/agriculture symbolism the thin strip of yellow at the end appears superfluous and unnerving to look at. The beaver is the correct size in relation to the whole flag, but much too large for the blue field in which it is placed. All the elements in this flag are competing for attention and it feels very inharmonious. For examples of what I consider very good flag design, check out these Japanese prefecture flags.
I agree with Mr. Norquist that Oregon’s flag is bland and similar to other state flags (with one distinction- ours is two-sided). I also really respect his initiative and desire to have better design representing our state. Unfortunately this isn’t better design and I worry that if adopted, it will be hard to replace anytime soon. Check his website if you want to learn more about his proposal.
Front and back of current flag: