• 03_jmende_rushmore

    Mende Design: Mount Rushmore (modified 2015). Observation platform with rainbow flag

Four studios rebrand the USA as part of SFMOMA project on the country's future

Posted by Rob Alderson,

So unless you really haven’t been keeping up-to-date with the news these past few weeks, then you’ll know that tomorrow Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will battle it out for the biggest job in the world. As ever these elections present an opportunity for a little bit of national soul-searching and a conversation about where the country could and should be heading over the coming years.

As part of this discourse, Eric Heiman principle of Volume Inc has commissioned four design teams to re-brand the USA as part of a project supported by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The starting points that while other countries have undergone rebrands in a very traditional way, America’s sense of self remains rooted in the past.

“The American identity as a whole remains stubbornly retrograde,” Eric said. "Old Glory, the Founding Fathers, O Say Can You See, hot dogs, apple pie, fireworks—the symbols and stories we use to celebrate (or, in the case of the equally retro-named Tea Party, protest) the U.S. have rarely evolved since its inception 236 years ago."

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    Mende Design: The St. Louis Arch (modified 2015). Sandblasted Navajo pattern on existing stainless steel cladding.

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    Mende Design: The Washington Monument (modified 2015). Truncated masonry with olive tree.

So enter four very different ideas for a new brand USA. San Fran’s Mende Design has imagined a Republican-led PR blitz whereby famous national sites like The Washington Monument and Mount Rushmore are tweaked to reflect how values like peace and tolerance fit into the national psyche, while New York’s Playlab, Inc have made a video actually outlining why the USA doesn’t need to change.

Brooklyn’s MGMT have produced a series of interesting alternative flags which are infographics based on facts and figures of modern America – everything from religion to the number of chickens per capita – and British designer Lucienne Roberts is a colourful, animated celebration of difference and inclusivity.

You can read loads more about each project on the SFMOMA blog and it’s sure to generate a great deal of discussion, but as four very different starting points they’re a really worthwhile contribution to the debate.

  • _1

    MGMT: Face Race

  • _2

    MGMT: Big Macs For All

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    MGMT: That’s A Lot of Clucking Chickens

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    MGMT: The Big House

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    MGMT: I Believe in God(s)

  • Usisthem

    Lucienne Roberts: usisthem

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Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.