Mental Floss

The Worst-Designed Thing You've Never Noticed (Spoiler: It's Flags)

Chris Higgins
YouTube // TED
YouTube // TED / YouTube // TED

In March 2015, Roman Mars sat down to tell an audience about vexillology, the study of flags. Because he's the host of the excellent 99% Invisible radio show, Mars proceeded to rip into a serious design problem: Most flags are designed like total garbage. (Or in vexillologists' terms, SOBs: "Seals On a Bedsheet.")

Now, you might say, "I don't care about flags," as I did when I first heard about this talk. But you'd likely be wrong, especially when you see the terrible flags in this talk. Indeed, Mars says very early on:

I'm kind of obsessed with flags. Sometimes I bring up the topic of flags, and people are like, "I don't care about flags," and then we start talking about flags, and trust me, 100 percent of people care about flags. There's just something about them that works on our emotions.

Prepare to be surprised, amused, and educated by this 18-minute talk about flag design.

If you'd like to download the talk, use an interactive transcript, or access the 20 subtitle languages, check out the TED Talk page. And if you liked that talk, you'll be interested in 99% Invisible Episode 140: Vexillonaire.