by Infogram
Create infographics

The story behind flags, by ferdio

A data visualization of the world flags

April 13, 2016

[This is a guest post by Birger Morgenstjern, about the award-winning data visualization project Flag Stories, by ferdio]



Various flag stories 2

How it started out

A flag is simply a fascinating piece of design. With limited constraints and simple colors, flags are highly symbolic representations of a country’s unique story. That’s why we decided to explore them in every possible way in order to share our fascination with the world.

The project was named Flag Stories and it’s a series of infographics presented on where new stories will be added continuously. Flag Stories is a project by ferdio – a Copenhagen based infographic agency transforming data and information into captivating visuals.

Curious to see what might be learned from an in-depth deconstruction of flag design, the project was also set out as a way of demonstrating how you can find and tell stories from something that seems rather “storyless” by comparing the data of layouts, colors, similarities, symbolism, proportions, etc.

To be honest we didn’t expect to find this many stories behind flags, when we started out. But it seemed like the more we dug into the data, the more stories emerged. So expect more flag stories to be presented in future.

Also we didn’t expect this much attention and interest from people around the world as it is kind of nerdy, but Flag Stories went viral reaching not only design oriented medias, but also the mainstream audience. Reading hundreds of mails and feedback from users, it also underlines the strong feelings and interest to flags.

So our plan is to keep digging and continuously adding new stories to the project and topic – new infographics are already lined up.

Finding new stories behind flag design

There are a lot of books, communities and websites covering the different aspects of flags like history, demography and culture – actually there’s a term covering the scientific study of flags called vexillology. But we wanted to add new aspects to this field by only looking at the graphics and creating simple and beautiful infographics. Comparing the data of layouts, colors, similarities, symbolism and proportions you will find interesting and hidden stories you didn’t know. Like, do you know what is the most used symbol in flags? Most used color? Or how the world flag would look like, if all flags were combined? It was important for us to both find new stories about the design behind flags and at the same time present them in a new infographic way telling the stories as simple, beautiful and inspiring as possible.

From data to stories

Basically we started looking at all the flags in the world and squeezed all the data we could possibly gather in to a blank spreadsheet. Wikipedia has been our most used source for information, but you will find the specific source list for each visual at the bottom of the page. Some data we needed to extract manually like “The most dominating flag colors of the world” or “The complexity of flags” by calculating the points and area of colors using Adobe Illustrator (Simplify Paths).

For now, Flag Stories is a simple customized Tumblr website as we wanted the infographics to be simple presented and easy to share on various platforms. But we are considering making it more interactive or as print in the future, if there’s a continuous interest for the project.

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Flag Stories is a project by ferdio – a Copenhagen based infographic agency transforming data and information into captivating visuals. Any feedback regarding the project (ideas, errors, comments, questions, etc.), please contact ferdio at [email protected]. You can follow ferdio on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Written by Tiago Veloso

Tiago Veloso is the founder and editor of Visualoop and Visualoop Brasil . He is Portuguese, currently based in Bonito, Brazil.