Stars and Stripes - Paula Scher

Happy July 4th

The Pentagram agency's call to designers to rework the flag was one of its most infamous projects

One of the Pentagram design agency's most famous projects was its 1986 invitation to 96 graphic designers and illustrators to reinterpret the iconic stars and stripes of the American flag in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. Kit Hinrichs, a partner in Pentagram’s San Francisco office at the time, instigated the project and the resulting flags were presented in an exhibition organised by the San Francisco chapter of the AIGA (The professional association for design) that opened on the 4th of July, 1986. 


Contributors to the project hailed from across America and beyond, and included big names such as Saul Bass, Massimo Vignelli, Milton Glaser, Seymour Chwast, Louise Fili and Michael Vanderbyl. Designers were given the freedom to present their flags in any medium within a 12-by-18-inch format, and the finished works ranged from drawings, oil paintings and prints to assemblages of pressed flowers and coloured pencils to shadow boxes and sculptures. According to Pentagram, "some designers approached the assignment as an exercise in pure design; others used the brief as an opportunity to express editorial comment."



Pentagram was co-founded by Phaidon's late Creative Director Alan Fletcher and Kenneth Grange. Our book Pentagram is a compendium of the agency's best work and is written by David Gibbs - editorial consultant to Pentagram since the 1970s. It offers a rare insight into the acency's creative durability, explores the group's knowledge and thought processes, client-designer relationship and the company's structure and methodology.