You all know how much i love paper maps, right? Of course you do! I love everything about them, especially when they’re well designed and lusciously produced.
Here’s this story. A few days ago, i came across the zoomable maps on paper and immediately fell in love. “Map2 is a clever streetmap: each of its quadrants unfolds to show a zoomed-in view of that region, then refolds again quickly and easily”. I emailed the founder, anne stauche, to express my excitement and asked to meet up for coffee. We met, we got on and i’m delighted to feature her on my blog!
Anne, what’s your background? I studied visual communication design for digital media in germany and have been working as a usability expert designing digital products for companies like yahoo and paypal. I’m fascinated by how to turn complex information and processes into simple, logical and beautiful interactive solutions.
What made you want to design and produce a physical product, in this case a map? I love maps as it’s all about information design. There’s so much data in them, the challenge is to work out what to show and what to take out as not to overwhelm people. I’m always curious about how interaction design can be translated into physical products. When it comes to physical maps, they often lack great features and functions of digital maps. You usually have to unfold a map completely to see the area you want to view. You cannot select specific information you might want and, of course, you can’t zoom in.
I do love playing around and finding solutions to problems. I came up with a folding method that allows you to show different levels of the same information.With just one folding action you can change the level of information. Basically, you can zoom in and out!
How did you start and what were your first steps? I played around with a piece of paper and came up with a folding method. I then created a quick prototype and showed it around to get feedback. People loved the concept. Then i spent time looking at the actual design of it. The design was very important to support the functionality of the map. I did a lot of research, how people use maps, what information is required. I found that most maps show too much information which can be very overwhelming.
What information was important for you to show? I wanted for people to get a sense of the city, not just by displaying tourist attractions and simple transport maps. I included a greater london map. Then you have the zoomable street map (with different level of detail). Additionally, i decided to show the individual underground lines in their actual colours on the street map so that people can plan their way around the city.
How did you make the leap to printing the first map? I bought some basic map data and then developed my own map design specifically for this particular folding method. I decided to start with london as i’m living there. Then i looked at how it could actually be produced. I found a printer who was happy to explore and experiment various printing and finishing methods, which are very complex. I printed my first map in a small edition and created a website to sell them. I also went around and placed them in some specialised book and design shops.
What was the response? Overwhelming! Within days every major design and gadget blog wrote about the zoomable map. It seemed to have spread like fire! Many people started asking for further cities.
So now you are creating a city series? Yes, i finally adapted the design to accomodate a series. I created a new zoomable map of london and a zoomable map of berlin to start off the series. New york is in the pipeline and of course other destinations will follow. The production process has been further developed and i’ve explored using special colours to enhance the experience of using the map.
You have a kickstarter campaign, that’s exciting! Yes, in order to be able to produce the new york map, to use more sophisticated printing methods and speed up the design process for other cities people have asked for, i decided on a kickstarter campaign. There’s also an online poll where people can vote for the next city they would like to see produced.
You also own a patent for the folding method? Yes, i went through the process and the patent has been granted. The folding method is not just useful for the maps, but can be used in many various applications. For example, for instructions, education et cetera. The folding method is available for licensing.
What’s your favourite city? London!
Anne, thank you for your time and for my zoomable maps, especially the sold out first london edition. I shall cherish it!
Why not support anne in her quest to raise the funds on kickstarter to continue the series with new york being next, followed by other cities. You can pre-order maps and in doing so support a great project!