Imagine for a moment you’re in the city you live in; you know it like the back of your hand and yet you know there’s shops, businesses or services nearby that you haven’t yet come across. Or maybe you’re in an unfamiliar city and you want to explore and stay away from the same old global brands that you see everywhere, in every city and on every street.
Now imagine putting this on a map.
“Ah hah!” you might say, reaching into your pocket and brandishing your smartphone. “I can do that easily” you say triumphantly as you fire up Google’s or Apple’s or HERE’s mapping app.
But no, I’m talking about something a little more focused, a little less broad. “No worry” you say, firing up Foursquare, or Yelp or Facebook or TripAdvisor.
But the map I’m looking at right now, isn’t anything like this. There’s no national or global brands. There’s just small, independent, probably quirky, businesses. And they’re on a map. A real, tangible, hold in your hands and touch sort of map. It looks like this and it arrived on my door mat last week.
First impressions count and these first impressions are good. The Independent Map Co obviously has some serious design smarts going on but there’s also a lovely little maps touch to the address label, with my home address’s latitude and longitude on there as well (although I’ve pixelated this bit out, so you’ll have to trust me on that point).
This is the first printed, tangible, map the the Independent Map Co has produced and it’s for Liverpool, the home city of the founders. Sadly it’s not a city I’m familar with although I’m assured that there’s a London version coming soon. If first impressions are good, the packaging is even better. There care and attention to detail by the shed load going on here.
Once you get to the map itself, it continues to impress. On one side is a list of the independent businesses, broken down into categories such as Escapes, Food & Drink and Evening amonsgt others. Each business has the usual contact details but there’s also an obviously carefully written summary of the business and in keeping with the map and the packaging, there’s the coordinates as well. This has got artisanal written all over it, but in a good way.
On the other side is the map, the real map. There’s love and attention to detail in the cartography. Everything is smooth and regular. The roads have been smoothed out and the muted colour scheme accentuates the red numbered map markers for the independent businesses. It’s a map that whilst not geographically precise, allows you to focus on getting to where you want to go. It doesn’t get in the way and provides the perfect backdrop for the key information you need in a map of this type; main roads, key points of interest and those red map markers. Even the scale bar is based in human terms; 4 squares on the faint graticule is approximately 5 minutes walks.
The form factor of the map hits the right note too. It’s small enough to keep in a purse or bag for when you really need it. If I’m ever in Liverpool, I’m going to be sure to seek out an espresso from 53.402456°N, 2.976782°W, which is where Bold Street Coffee is located. In the meantime. I’m looking forwards to the London version to be produced so I can seek out some new coffee venues when I’m next up in the city and thanks to the map’s web site I can do just that; the Espresso Room in Bloomsbury looks rather interesting.
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