Feb 23, 2010

Mapping Your Heritage the Modern Way

If I didn't have such a bad sense of direction, I'd be a cartographer. Yes, I might not be able to follow a map very well, but oh how I love to look at them. I've been thinking about maps a lot lately as a way to represent where you come from. Sure, you can go the Erin-go-Bragh tattoo, t-shirt, and tea-towel route, throw in a few flags, a bumper sticker on your arse, and a shamrock sticker on your forehead and no one can question your roots (though they might question your taste). Or, you can take a less skididdlyeeidledoodle approach and incorporate some maps into your decor for a subtle—and yes, stylish—nod to your heritage.
Vintage maps of Ireland are fairly easy to come by (maybe I'll feature a few options soon) and they're fine, but if you're a modern Irish man or woman, you might appreciate some less-cliché wall-candy!

Studio KMO
Karen O'Leary of Studio KMO decided that if she cut away all the unnecessary clutter on a city map, it would reveal so much more about a city. It does; it reveals that you can take something common and make it beautiful. By painstakingly eliminating the blocks, parks, and bodies of water on a map, she reveals the main arteries—and bones—of a city, contrasting positive and negative space, and at the same time creating intricate works of art. I'm really loving her 26" x 19 ½" papercut map of Dublin (shown above against a black background)—it would look amazing framed and set against an interesting background. Handcut map $340.

O'Leary's Pen and Paper series deconstructs the city map even further, simplifying the map to a series of thin vertical lines. Her handdrawn San Francisco, Paris, and London maps are especially interesting in this form, as is the Dublin map (shown above). Think this series would make a fabulous postcard set. Original handdrawn (and signed) pen and paper maps are available for $140; prints for $35.

Ork Posters

I'm already a proud owner of Ork's Brooklyn typographic poster, and seriously, I love it and actually use it to get my neighb-bearings on occasion. Ork posters are well designed, original, and modern maps depicting a city's neighborhoods typographically. They're a great option for representing your American side of the family/roots. I've emailed Ork to see if they might consider creating an Ireland map in the near future—I want/need/have to have one, and I think lots of other people might want one, too.
Ork responded: "We'd like to add some more cities before we moved on to something like countries, but yes Ireland would be a good one to outline all the counties."
That's a maybe. (Ahem, maybe you should let them know you're interested, too!)

Haptic Lab

Brooklyn-based architect and designer, Emily Fischer, creates beautiful soft maps you can use, touch, and cuddle. When you consider that so many of the maps we look at and use these days are digitized, these Soft Maps—quilted queen, twin, and mini-maps of cities and neighborhoods—are an expressive and tactile reminder of place. They're beautiful and are meant to be used. (Fischer was inspired to create these maps as her mother lost her eye sight.) Haptic Lab's current locations include Brooklyn, Manhattan, Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles, but they welcome custom orders. Love the idea of wrapping myself in a map of west-Clare! Great gift. ($150—$800)

Native Vermont Originals
Okay, so technically this is not a map; it's a typography collage. BUT when you customize it with the names of the places that are important to you, it becomes a map of you. I really love the idea of a typography map that is not a physical drawing of a place but almost a trail of placenames. There are so many different ways you could go with this—you could customize to include the names of the thirty-two counties of Ireland and hello!—it's a map of Ireland, or you could make it even more unique and add the names of all the places you've ever lived, all the teams you have ever followed (for me it'd read, The Magpies, The Banner, The NY Yankees, The Brooklyn Shamrocks), or just important places to you. Love it.

1 comment:

Jenji said...

I absolutely love these! Especially the Soft version -- perfect gift for a friend who's moving away so she can keep the whole city with her wherever she goes -- and the awesome typography collage. Your team idea is genius!

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