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Web Flags


Federica, Charlotte, Sabine, Tomasso, Nadia

Inspiration for this project:

Colours of the world wide social web:


Colours in culture - David McCandless and asked "What colour is happiness in China? Or good luck in Africa? Or anger in Eastern Europe? Are any colour meanings universal across cultures and continents?" and came up with this:


A series of adverts in which national emblems were made out of foods indigenous to the country represented


An advertising campaign created by Brazillian Icaro Doria for the magazine Grande Reportagem in Lisbon via FCB Publicidade. The campaign showed the 'real' meaning of national flags, and was intented to 'bring across concept that the magazine offers profound journalism about topics of real importance to the world of today.'


'Barcode' (2001) - commissioned by the European Union and carried out by OMA, who merged the flags of current EU member states into a new representative flag. It was commissioned as a response to the observation that Europe had an 'iconographic defecit'. Whereas the number of stars in the existing European flag are fixed, the barcode flag can be expanded as new countries join Europe OMA European Flag:


Bright Flags project - a call for designers to re-imagine a symbol for Europe


The current European Flag:


"The European flag is the symbol not only of the European Union but also of Europe's unity and identity in a wider sense. The European flag consists of 12 golden stars in a circle on a blue background. The stars symbolise the ideals of unity, solidarity and harmony among the peoples of Europe. The number of stars has nothing to do with the number of member countries, though the circle is a symbol of unity."

Flag symbolism

The use of olours in flags is highly symbolic and culturally specific. Blue has different meanings for different countries - there is some contestation about the symbolism, but it may include:

  • a colour of Paris used on the city's coat of arms
  • identified with Saint Martin,
  • associated with the Virgin Mary the patron saint of France
  • a colour of Charlemagne's ensign and war cry, "Montjoie".
  • represents the bourgeoisie of the Ancien Régime
  • a symbol of the famed Greek sky and sea
  • associated with traditional colours of Greek clothes in the islands and the mainlan
  • the pattern of blue and white formations (created from placing white metal layers on a blue surface) on the shield of Achilles
  • connection with colors of goddess Athena, Alexander the Great's army banners
  • represents truth, loyalty, and justice
  • associated with coats of arms of previous kings

Research question

"Blue is still the most predictable colour on the web" (Folksonomy, 2011)

Can we see cultural differences (and culturally specific palettes), by looking at the top websites per country? Is every country blue?

What would national flags look like, based on the colours of Web? Is every country blue?

And what would an EU flag be, based on the common colours of the EuroWebs?


1. Compile a list of European ccTLDs

2. Search for the top 20 websites for the 44 European countries with European ccTLDs

3. Using Colorzilla (Chrome and Firefox extension), pick the 2 dominant colours of each website (see protocol below), and paste into a spreadsheet.


4. Create an overview of the colour pallettes per country, and recolour the country's flags

5. Create a new EU flag.

Tools used:

1. Compare Lists:

2. To get top 20 websites per ccTLD manually, we used the harvester:
  • Use clean research browser
  • Google - ""
  • Search setting - Results per page - 30, uncheck instant results
  • Copy whole list
  • Paste into harvester
  • Select Only return uniques
  • Select exclude Google & YT links
  • Harvest
  • Paste urls into Google Doc & delete anything after row 21
3. Install Colourpicker or Colourzilla and create colour maps of the countries' top websites

3.a Colour selection protocol:

Choose 2 colours for each homepage of the websites with Colorzilla's "pipe" according to their relevance:

Use website header firstif there's website header_colour of header

If no header use logo/brand inside the page

If no logo use background and font colours

4. Use colour lovers to create Web maps per country


Colour Couples per country



- correlate with other data?
Countries richness in colour, vs wealth (per capita income of a country?)

- world countries flags

-- Main.Nadi aGabrielaDresscherLambertus - 27 Jun 2012


The harvester doesn't return all the top 20 urls for countries which use Cyrillic script - the search returns some of the sites without the 'www.' and these don't show up in the harvester.

Countries with Cyrillic script:


* coloursinculture.png:

  • Goethe_Farbenkreis.jpg:

  • colours_in_scale.png:

  • french_blurred.png:

  • french_webflag.png:
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
955_coloursculture.pngpng 955_coloursculture.png manage 188 K 29 Jun 2012 - 08:06 CharlotteWebb  
A_new_symbol_for_Europe___Design_Den_Haag.jpgjpg A_new_symbol_for_Europe___Design_Den_Haag.jpg manage 281 K 28 Jun 2012 - 09:46 CharlotteWebb  
Agora_screenshot.pngpng Agora_screenshot.png manage 525 K 29 Jun 2012 - 09:11 CharlotteWebb  
EU_barcode_koolhaas.pngpng EU_barcode_koolhaas.png manage 937 bytes 28 Jun 2012 - 08:59 SabineNiederer  
Flags.zipzip manage 54 K 29 Jun 2012 - 07:50 CharlotteWebb  
FrenchFlying.jpegjpeg FrenchFlying.jpeg manage 55 K 29 Jun 2012 - 09:46 CharlotteWebb  
Goethe_Farbenkreis.jpgjpg Goethe_Farbenkreis.jpg manage 78 K 29 Jun 2012 - 08:09 SabineNiederer  
GreekFlying.jpegjpeg GreekFlying.jpeg manage 42 K 29 Jun 2012 - 09:46 CharlotteWebb  
SwedenFlying.jpegjpeg SwedenFlying.jpeg manage 4 K 29 Jun 2012 - 09:48 CharlotteWebb  
SwissFlying.jpegjpeg SwissFlying.jpeg manage 88 K 29 Jun 2012 - 09:47 CharlotteWebb  
color_couples.pngpng color_couples.png manage 46 K 29 Jun 2012 - 15:29 SabineNiederer  
colours_in_scale.pngpng colours_in_scale.png manage 25 K 29 Jun 2012 - 15:31 SabineNiederer  
coloursinculture.pngpng coloursinculture.png manage 188 K 29 Jun 2012 - 07:54 SabineNiederer  
country_colors.jpgjpg country_colors.jpg manage 353 K 28 Jun 2012 - 09:08 SabineNiederer  
euflag.gifgif euflag.gif manage 3 K 29 Jun 2012 - 08:57 CharlotteWebb  
europeunion.jpegjpeg europeunion.jpeg manage 25 K 29 Jun 2012 - 08:40 CharlotteWebb  
flags1.zipzip manage 57 K 29 Jun 2012 - 07:53 CharlotteWebb  
food-flags-france.jpegjpeg food-flags-france.jpeg manage 61 K 29 Jun 2012 - 08:25 CharlotteWebb  
food-flags-italy.jpegjpeg food-flags-italy.jpeg manage 71 K 29 Jun 2012 - 08:26 CharlotteWebb  
food-flags-spain.jpegjpeg food-flags-spain.jpeg manage 72 K 29 Jun 2012 - 08:26 CharlotteWebb  
food-flags-switzerland.jpegjpeg food-flags-switzerland.jpeg manage 56 K 29 Jun 2012 - 08:27 CharlotteWebb  
french_blurred.pngpng french_blurred.png manage 6 K 29 Jun 2012 - 15:32 SabineNiederer  
french_webflag.pngpng french_webflag.png manage 4 K 29 Jun 2012 - 15:33 SabineNiederer  
sample.jpgjpg sample.jpg manage 606 K 28 Jun 2012 - 15:05 SabineNiederer  
twitter_colors.jpgjpg twitter_colors.jpg manage 629 K 28 Jun 2012 - 08:58 SabineNiederer  
Topic revision: r16 - 29 Jun 2012, SabineNiederer
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