In light of today’s news that the European Union (EU) has been awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize, it seems appropriate to recall one recent venture the EU made into image makeover territory.
In 2001, the EU asked the renowned architecture and design firm, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, led by legendary architect/urbanist Rem Koolhaas, to brainstorm some ideas for how the EU could do a better job of visually representing transcontinental unity and identity in its then-new capital of Brussels.
The brilliant and edgy crew at OMA recommended overhauling the EU flag and came back with a radical new design concept: a barcode, in which the pattern of colors reflects the sequencing of all the colors of all the national flags of the EU member states.
OMA reasoned that its barcode flag design “intends to represent the essence of the European project, showing Europe as the common effort of different nation states, with each state retaining its own cultural identity while sharing the advantages of acting together.” It had the added benefit of being easily updated as the EU expanded its membership.
For a time, this barcode was actually in official use. As evidence (the photo is real):
This is President George W. Bush at a European diplomatic event in 2006. The podium is decorated with the OMA barcode flag.
Ultimately, after just a few months, the EU opted to revert to its traditional flag design:
(via Flickr user European Parliament)
What might have been.