23 Jan 2017   admin

Off the charts

If were honest, theres always been a bit of a disconnect between physical reality and the way its represented on maps. Most world maps are based on the Mercator projection, which dates back to the sixteenth century – slightly before we had GPS to check our bearings.

The Mercator was a map with an agenda it had to convey not-so-subtle messages about power, as well as help sailors find their way. An enlarged Europe sits dead-centre as it was (to Europeans at least) the centre of the universe at this time. Polar regions tended to be squished out of shape, or cut off. Most famously of all, Greenland, which was relatively well known, is shown as being the same size as Africa, which was still regarded as a mysterious realm of mythical beasts. In reality, Africa is over fifteen times as large as Greenland.

Criticism of Mercator-based maps led to the Peters Projection, in which every continent and country had the correct surface area, but appeared distended as though our planet was made of rubber and was being mischievously stretched by unknown forces.

Why does any of this matter, when we all use Google Maps anyway? The relative sizes and positions of countries on world maps says a lot about how they are seen, and could affect how they are treated. With Antarctica almost out of sight, politicians were less concerned about climate change. Nothing was felt when unseen ice began to melt.

Minimising Africa made it easier for western politicians to overlook both the problems and the potential of our continent.

All this could now change however, with Narukawas Authagraph. For probably the first time, everything is included. Who knew that the Pacific Ocean was quite so vast? Africa is now in the top left-hand corner, with Europe no more or no less prominent. Looking at an Authagraph, you may find yourself involuntarily tilting your head as you try to make sense of it.

But its not the Authagraph thats wrong its every other map you grew up with. Seeing an Authagraph for the first time is a bit like returning home to find that your house is now at the other end of the garden, and is in fact a bungalow.

The cleverness of the design kicks in when you consider that Authagraph maps tessellate exactly, and (being Japanese) can be folded up to make an origami sphere or tetrahedron. Which may just help you get your bearings.

A more accurate world map especially one thats been so cleverly designed really demonstrates who our neighbours are, and why we should care more about them. This new map puts current global issues such as the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean into sharp relief theres nowhere to hide, and we can no longer shuffle inconvenient places off to one side.

View Narukawa’s Authagraph

23 Jan 2017   admin

A design for success?

Strictly defined, design was always about how a product looked and felt, whether it was a Coke bottle, an iPad or a BMW i8. Designers tended to be secluded in hidden corners of businesses, or outsourced entirely.A sea-change is underway, with more and companies understanding that design is not just an aesthetic event, but something which can, when applied more universally, be fundamental to the success of a business. Entrepreneurs are starting to think in terms of design-led businesses, and to create them. In many ways, this trend has emerged from improved technology. Now every company can hav ...

23 Jan 2017   admin

Editorial design in a crisis

We are all drowning in media and information. What is lacking, however, is perspective and filters. If we all get our news and views from mainstream media (especially TV), what are we missing out on? Two things: objectivity and perspective, and those ‘a-ha’ moments that happen when editorial design impacts on your life in a meaningful way. Small publishing houses have carried the banner of editorial design in recent years, and their brave refusal to conform has kept many flames alight. Now, however, we face a bigger picture that is even more alarming than the slow decline of editorial desi ...