Stockholm-based EssenInternational separates the stars from the stripes to make this American icon a little more social democratic
The term Scandinavian has exited American mouths in the past year more than it has in the past … well, ever. Thanks to Bernie Sanders, its Google search count is considerably off the roof, expanding beyond images of beautifully crafted Danish furniture or functional Ikea shelves. ‘Scandinavian’. It’s the lexical revival of the season – thank you, senator. But, how much do Americans actually know about Scandinavia? It’s a very forward-pushing region, technologically and socially. A place where innovation and equality already hold governmental seats and design could too, because that is how relevant it is to its people.
We are soon opening in San Francisco. And, as our dear senator pointed out, Scandinavia and America are pretty contrasting societies in terms of culture, but also when it comes to design. We thought, what if America and Scandinavia met and procreated? What would the offspring be? We named her California.
Words and images
Images: The campaign uses work by American photographer Andre D Wagner, who focuses on honest street portraits
California is technology- and people-focused, pro-public funding and design-driven. To visualise this thesis we decided to take an American icon and reimagine it through Scandinavian eyes. Bank of America was founded by Italian immigrants as a bank for the people, so we decided to give it back to the people by changing its name to Bank of Americans. A nominal switch that would go from nationalist to people-ist.
A very Scandinavian switch. After all, the people make the land, not the other way around. We took the flag as a central symbol, whether for the logomark or as a card design, because it felt like a natural choice and because there is no symbol more iconically American than the Star-Spangled Banner. We simplified the flag, again a very Scandinavian thing to do, by removing the stars. And by removing the stars, we remove the states, and by removing the states, we remove borders. When you remove borders, you are left with people of all kinds and creeds walking the same streets. And by removing the stars we remove the idea of star treatment, since this would be a bank with equal treatment for all customers. The final result: Bank of Americans. A People-Spangled Banner, a starless, equal bank.