The 70kft team during a brainstorming session

The 70kft team during a brainstorming session 


(Courtesy of 70kft)

South Carolina removed the Confederate Battle Flag from its Capitol grounds earlier this year, and much of the rest of the South is following suit. 

In light of these changes, Studio 360 asked Dallas design firm 70 KFT has spent the summer coming up with ideas for a new icon to replace the flag.

“It’s not so much about redesigning a flag, but reintroducing a new idea,” says design director Alexander Flores. 

The designers came up with two big ideas they wanted to pursue, so they split into two smaller groups: One working on a design inspired by quilting as the main concept, and another team designing a treatment around the word “rebel.”

Designer Michael Feavel started the discussion about the word 'rebel.' He was thinking about stereotypes of the South: “We can be labelled very negatively — slow, or simple.” He says. “And the word ‘rebel’ came to mind. And that’s not something that can just be labelled as negative.” The word’s ambiguity appealed to Feavel: it can be positive or negative, noun or verb.

The team has been working with an image of the word ‘rebel’ in Martin Luther King’s handwriting. 

“[We have] these other southern rebels that we, you know, have falling into this category. We've got Truman Capote, we’ve got Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, Mark Twain,” says Gus Granger, the co-founder and head designer of the firm.

The second team was attracted to the layered aspects of quilting.

“We are starting to explore what the togetherness aspect means. I mean we started exploring tapestries, we started exploring stained glass — different elements that have been deconstructed in some way and reconstructed in some way,” says creative director Stefan Reddick. 

“We're kind of getting away from a flag in general and we're looking for a symbol that embodies the modern South. Flags are for battles and quilts are for homes and so this quilt concept, it's pretty powerful because it’s used in all types of cultures and also just the symbolism of multiple pieces all brought together, taking pieces of the past and pieces of the present,” says Billy Parkerson, a team member from Birmingham, Alabama. 

The team is enthusiastic about their work, but Alexander Flores who's from south Texas, knows that trying to impose a symbol from the top down is a not going to be easy. 

“I think it's something that should be more organic,” Flores says, “If we can start a dialogue, we’ll be happy that we've contributed something more than just a logo.”

The design firm's proposal will be revealed on next week.

This story first aired as an interview on PRI's Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen.

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